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Burma looks to ‘legalise’ domestic workers abroad

Burma’s Minister for Labour and Immigration Thein Swe speaking to reporters after a parliamentary session in Naypyidaw on 21 April 2017. (DVB)

Burma’s Minister for Labour and Immigration says his office is undertaking measures to legalise Burmese domestic workers’ status abroad.

Speaking to DVB after a lower house session on Wednesday, Thein Swe said, “Currently, there are many Burmese domestic workers without legal papers in Singapore. The first priority is to get those workers registered and issued official documents. Then the relevant ministries can take steps to ensure that future domestic workers are trained to work abroad.

“But for now, we will concentrate on mechanisms to register those [domestic] workers who are currently residing and working in foreign countries.”

Thousands of Burmese domestic workers, especially women, presently work without legal permits in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The move comes after a tragic incident on 12 June when a Burmese domestic helper jumped to her death from a 19-storey building in Singapore.

“If Burmese domestic workers have no legal status in foreign countries, it is difficult for the Myanmar government to assist them if they are abused or mistreated,” the minister added.