The exploitation of migrant workers in Thailand by the locals and increasing modern slavery

When Leng Lyda shifted from Cambodia to a fishing town in Thailand intending to make his career in the seafood industry, he was prepared to work hard but didn’t insight a delay or debt. He found the job immediately but it took him time to get the right to work. Meanwhile, he had to struggle and accumulated debt.

As stated by the activists, many of the migrant workers from different areas were not given the right to work by state, resulting in huge labor exploitation and modern slavery.

Last year, the Southeast Asian nation reexamined the registration process and provided migrant workers the same labor rights as the locals which include pension, health care facilities and child allowance.

At the 1st stage of the overhaul, the government’s priority is to register two million migrant workers. This procedure will be completed by the employers but payment has to be made by workers, earning 10,000 baht or more monthly. The total expenditure for granting visas, health checks and work license is approximately 6700 baht. Anyhow, it is observed that labor exploitation continues as the employers increase the cost and burden the workers with new debts.

As told by the migrant workers in the eastern province of Rayong, the employers are charging registration fees 4 times greater than what is recommended by the government. The migrant workers are being encouraged by the labor ministry to report employers who charge them high fees.

Thailand has three million registered migrant workers but according to the research done by the United Nations’ migration agency (IOM), at least 2 million unregistered workers are working in the country. The redesigned system is not probable to encourage the migrant workers to get registered.