Govt to launch pilot for overseas domestic workers
THE government is planning to launch a pilot project aimed at protecting the rights of domestic workers from Myanmar who are employed in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, an official from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population said yesterday.
In cooperation with overseas Myanmar embassies, the government plans to collect lists of undocumented housemaids who are working illegally in these five countries.
U Thein Win, a senior official from the Department of Migrant Affairs under the ministry, said planning for the pilot project was in its early stages, but the government wants to inform all parties who might become involved in the process, including Myanmar embassies and relevant authorities in the target countries.
“After we collect the lists of domestic workers, we plan to give them legal identity cards,” he said. “We will also try to protect their legal rights by negotiating with authorities in the countries where they are working.”
He added that nearly 40,000 domestic workers are employed in Singapore and almost 30,000 are working in Thailand, many of whom suffer abuse and forced labour.
“Therefore, the Union government wants to take steps to protect them to the best of our ability,” U Thein Win said.
Myanmar’s government stopped sending domestic workers overseas in 2014 as a result of a string of abuse cases, but many women have travelled to other countries unofficially to take such jobs.
Daw Khin Nway Oo, deputy director general for the ministry, said the government would consider reversing this decision only after lists of undocumented workers are collected and negotiations are made with other countries to afford these workers legal rights.
“Even some legal domestic workers have faced abuse but they had no legal recourse because their host countries were not willing to accept their legal rights,” she said. “Therefore, we are trying to protect them before we move forward.”
Domestic workers from Myanmar have been subjected to an array of abuses from employers while working abroad.