Migrant workers and employers find the resulting process of the official joint agreement of the Thai and Burma governments to issue them with new legal papers time consuming, difficult and complicated.
The two governments reached an agreement to issue the new paperwork known as, the Certificate of Identity (CI) in October last year, but there has been delays in implementing the scheme.
Labor rights groups have said that migrant workers have difficulties meeting all the criteria or requirements needed to obtain the CI.
On both side of the border, respective government departments opened Certificate of Identity centers to issue the documents. U Moe Kyoe, chairperson of the Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affair (JACBA) said workers who applied in Burma were not having any problems with the CI requirements, but migrant workers in Thailand were facing language problems and were being over charged because of having to use the services of agents.
Speaking to Karen News, U Moe Kyoe said.
“Workers who have got the green book, the visa needs to be extended at the Thai immigration office. There, forms need to be filled in. The forms are only in Thai and English – migrant workers [without Thai language] can’t do it. After that, the workers should proceed to labor processing office together with their employer or representatives of the employer. The employer will fill out another form there. So, many workers have to use agents to process the CI – that adds more service charges and causes difficulties for them getting it.”
According to the procedure, any migrant worker who holds the temporary work permit or the pink card can apply for the CI card by making payment through a 7/11 store. The payment costs 310 baht. Then with the receipt, the applicant pays a visa extension fee of 500 baht at the immigration office and 500 baht for the cost of a medical check. After that, the applicant needs to pay another 100 baht to the labor department office. The official cost for the process for the CI card is 1,410 baht.
U Zaw Myo Htwe, the Deputy in-charge of Mae Sot CI center said that the first part of getting the CI card is easy, but the hard part is getting the other necessary paperwork through the different Thai departments.
Speaking to Karen News, U Zaw Myo Htwe said.
“Workers only need to bring their pink card, the receipt they get from paying the fee and completed form that has nine statements. To go through that, it will take an hour. The migrant workers face difficulties when they go to the Thai immigration office to get their visa extension and to get their work permit. For that, they need to do it in their employers’ presence or with a representative of the employer. They (Thai Authority) have set those regulations and we cannot help with that.”
In the Thai border town of Mae Sot in Tak province, the CI center has been up and running since March 3, 2017. Until May 9 (57 days), only 3,951 migrant workers so far have gone through the Mae Sot CI process.
U Zaw Myo Htwe from the Mae Sot CI center cautioned migrant workers that the proper approach is by the migrant worker doing it themselves and not through agents.
For migrant worker like Ko A’ Soe, a daily laborer in the Mae Sot area, said that the CI card is not necessary for him.
“I have heard that we have to get CI card. What I see is that people who want to go work in Bangkok will need to do that. For me, the temporary (pink) card will do, as I am working in Mae Sot area.”
According to sources from workers’ right groups, the CI card has four-year validity. Burmese migrant workers are advised that there are two CI centers in Samut Sakhon (Mahachai), one CI center in Samut Prakan, Mae Sai, Mae Sot and Ranong.