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Nearly 200 Burmese workers in Thailand fear deportation over Songkran pay row

Prachuap Khiri Khan lies about 230 kilometres southwest of the Thai capital Bangkok. (Image: Google Maps)

A group of Burmese migrant workers in western Thailand’s Prachuap Khiri Khan province face possible deportation after demanding Songkran holiday wages that they say their employer promised but has not paid out.

“The migrant workers work for a canned pineapple factory,” said Ye Min of the Aid Alliance Committee (AAC). “They had a dispute with the employer as they had requested three days’ wages over the eight-day Songkran holidays, which the employer pledged to pay.”

The dispute over wages for Songkran — Thailand’s equivalent to Burma’s Thingyan holiday — involves some 180 Burmese migrant workers.

“The employer said the workers would get paid for three days out of the total eight days of Songkran holiday. Till now, they have not received the payment yet. The workers are not happy about that,” Ye Min added. “The dispute took place two or three days ago. The workers reported to us that the employer threatened to deport them. We pressured the employer to tackle the issue lawfully. We will not accept the deportation of the migrant workers.”

Ye Min said AAC is not directly involved in the negotiations, but the Burmese Embassy and the relevant employment agency are collaborating in an attempt to resolve the pay dispute.

The Burmese migrant workers came to Thailand under a program underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding inked between the two countries’ governments on labour migration. Some have been in Thailand for only three months.