Thai officials read migrant workers their rights

Last week Thai officials and advocates from a migrant worker rights group held a public meeting to tell workers from Burma what their rights and protection was provided by Thailand’s labor laws.

Migrant worker rights groups said that the official public talk was an important step towards making sure workers understood their rights while employed in Thailand. It was the first time that Thai officials in Mae Sot worked together with worker rights advocates to raise awareness among migrant workers from Burma about their rights under Thai laws.

Officials from the Thai Labor Protection and Welfare Department in Mae Sot, Tak Province hosted the public meeting with the Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affairs (JACBA). Advocates working on behalf of workers from Burma explained about the Thai labor laws, rules and regulations that migrant worker’s have to follow.

Ko Moe Kyoe, chairperson of JACBA spoke to Karen News.

“We want to raise awareness among Burmese migrant worker about their rights and how, where and who to approach if they have problems their workplace. At the same time, we also want them to live in the local Thai community in harmony and according to the country’s laws and regulations. We are pleased that we have the opportunity to host this event together with Thai authorities.”

Ko Moe Kyoe pointed out that though the minimum wage set in Tak province is 226 Baht a day most of the 200 factories in Mae Sot are not paying it – only four factories- TK Fashion, Lee Form, Top Form
and M APPAREL CO.LTD are paying the minimum wage set by law.

An officer from Tak’s provincial labor ministry said that they intend to educate migrant workers about their rights and their responsibility while they are living in Thailand.

“The Thai government wants to raise awareness among migrant workers about their basic rights and how to demand they get their basic rights from their employer. At the same time, we also want to encourage them to respect and stay in harmony with Thai community.”

About 60 people attended the public speech organized by the Thai labor minister and JACBA. A worker said since it is not a holiday most workers would be unable to take time off work. Despite the low turnout migrant workers who attended the event were asked to pass on the message to other workers.

Ko See Thu, a migrant worker from a bread factory who attended the event said that it was useful for him.

“We thank those who come and speak today because I now know what my rights are according to the Thai labor laws.”

Organizers of the event plan to run similar events in Mae Sot’s factory areas at least once a month.

Migrant worker right groups estimate that there are as many as 200,000 Burmese migrant workers in the nine townships of Tak Province but warned that the majority of employers are not paying workers the minimum wage of 226 Baht a day.

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