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The labour ministers of Burma and Thailand have agreed to proceed with a labour cooperation plan to import migrant workers through a government-to-government agreement, says a senior Thai ministry official.
Labour spokesman Theerapol Khunmuang said the plan is aimed not only at putting an end to labour exploitation and human trafficking, but also ensuring migrant workers’ rights are protected.
The agreement was concluded on a recent visit to Burma by Labour Minister Gen Sirichai Distakul, he said, noting the meeting was a follow-up on the previous one in January in Burma’s capital Naypyidaw.
Theerapol said the meeting in Burma was also intended to prepare for an upcoming meeting of labour ministers from the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Laos in the middle of this month.
Thailand has already signed a labour agreement with Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
He said the Labour Ministry will submit the proposed government-to-government labour procurement agreement to the cabinet for approval.
Both countries have agreed to set up working panels to prepare for the arrangement and launch of public relations campaigns to inform workers about welfare benefits and expenses to prevent them from being exploited.
Gen Sirichai had also allayed concerns that bringing in migrant workers would dislodge Thais from their jobs, saying the import was merely intended to ease a shortage in certain industries where Thais do not want to work.
Meanwhile, the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) on Wednesday endorsed a report calling for year-round registration of migrant workers at permanent border checkpoints to encourage illegal workers to enter the labour system.
The report, prepared by the NRSA committee on social affairs, intends to help bring illegal migrant workers into the system to ensure their rights are protected and they have a decent working environment, work safety, social protection and welfare, officials said.