Burmese Workers Entering Thailand Under MOU System, Paying More than Double

Burmese workers returning to Thailand through the Mae Sot-Myawaddy No.2 Friendship Bridge are having to pay double the service fees. A workers rights group said since May 10th workers are charged double the fees associated with the MoU’s.

U Moe Kyaw from the Yaung Chi Oo Workers’ Union, that helps Burmese workers, said MOU fees previously set by two governments were around 500,000 kyats, but now workers are being charged more than double as brokers and agencies were also overcharging – fees now range from 1,800,000 to 2,500,000 Kyats a person.

U Moe Kyaw explained to Karen News, “before, service fees on the Burma side were only 150,000 Kyats and the service fee on the Thai side 3,600 Baht…a visa fee was 500 baht. The total fees set by the government came to around 500,000 kyats. However, agencies and brokers also charged from 800,000 to 1,000,000 Kyat. Now, the service fees, officially set on the Burma side, are 300,000 kyats. On the Thailand side, it is 7,500 Baht. The Visa fee has also increased from 500 Baht to 1,900 Baht. In addition, the brokers now charge more.”

Labor activists said the military-appointed State Administration Council could be taking advantage of the situation and sending workers at a time when the country is unstable and it is possible they are charging workers double to help the country’s revenue.

On May 10, when the MoU processes officially restarted, more than 200 workers entered Thailand, and on May 11, 300 more, a total of 500 workers.

This batch of MOU workers had agreed to work in Thailand before the Covid-19 outbreak, most were from Rakhine State, the Ayeyarwady and Magway regions.

Photo: JACBA.
The Thai Ministry of Labor has said that there was a need for lower-level workers when construction projects, meat and fish production, and tourism services resumed.

A Karen youth working at a gas station in Samut Prakan, Thailand, said, “This year when we renewed our passport, it cost us 13,000 Baht. I have to renew it again in a year. Working in Thailand, we cannot save much of our income because of the cost of renewing our passports. Both the Thai government and Myanmar government take advantage of workers.”

The Karen gas station worker pointed out his salary after three years of service together with a complete work permit and documents is 13,000Baht, new workers get 8,000 to 9,000 Baht and construction workers receive 400 Baht a day in the construction industry, without any insurance in the event of an accident on the job.

Unemployment and consumer costs in Burma have risen since the military coup, and many workers have attempted to enter Thailand illegally and have been arrested by Thai authorities.

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