Nationality Verification deadlines hundreds of thousands of migrant workers left undocumented

The Thai government is refusing to extend its deadline for migrant workers to complete the Nationality Verification (NV) process needed to work in Thailand legally from December 14th 2012.

The Thai government has said it will deport those migrant workers who failed to register in time.

The Thai Labour Minister, Padermchai Sasomsap, was quoted in The Bangkok Post as saying the 14th December 2012 deadline had been extended by the government several times to allow migrant workers and employers to get the proper documentation.

Minister Padermchai said.
“The result has been an influx of migrant workers, which has hampered efforts to better protect their rights and their welfare benefits.”

The NV scheme is the Thai government’s attempt to place all migrant workers under a legal framework to prepare for the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015. It is intended to prevent the use of child labor, abuse of workers rights and the hiring of undocumented migrants.

Pol Lt Gen Panu Kerdlarppol, the head of Thai Immigration Police Bureau, was reported in the Bangkok Post saying that all migrant workers without legal documents would be sent to detention centres in border provinces before being deported. Pol Lt Gen Panu Kerdlarppol said immigration authorities would respect the rights of migrant workers.

“Detention facilities are properly equipped. They are not prison cells. The workers are provided with proper food and shelter. They are treated when sick and visited by human right workers and authorities from their countries.”

Human rights and worker advocates say the closure of the NV process leaves the way open for undocumented migrants to be exploited by rogue officials, job brokers and unscrupulous bosses.

Andy Hall, the international adviser to the State Enterprise Work Relations Confederation of Thailand was quoted in The Nation newspaper.

“If these 1.5 million people get sent back, the economy would be crushed. It’s impossible. What we are going to see after [yesterday] is a massive extortion exercise by Thai authorities because they will be able to take advantage of the undocumented workers.”

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