Embassy seeks Thai help to recoup Myanmar migrant workers’ back pay
THE Myanmar embassy in Bangkok has asked for the Thai government’s assistance in recouping unpaid wages for more than 60 undocumented Myanmar migrant workers previously employed at a vermicelli noodle factory in Ban Pon town, Thailand, according to embassy officials.
“We have asked at the DSI [Department of Special Investigation] and with Thailand’s officials to send back the over 60 workers they detained and to work to get the unpaid wages for them as quickly as possible,” the Myanmar embassy’s labour officer U Aung Moe Khaing told The Myanmar Times yesterday.
He added that Thai officials from the DSI and the Ministry of Labour said they had ordered the factory’s owner to fork over the unpaid wages to the undocumented workers, as well as to 162 Myanmar nationals employed there legally on a memorandum of understanding between the two governments.
“I want to go back home, so I will accept the imprisonment,” one of the undocumented migrants, Ma Aye Maw, said last week after she ran out of the factory into the custody of a joint Thai-Myanmar inspection group that had arrived to negotiate a settlement with the MoU workers. “I had to work four months without pay. I want to get my unpaid wages back.”
Thailand-based Aid Alliance Committee (AAC) member Ko Ye Min told The Myanmar Times yesterday that though more than 60 undocumented workers fled the factory, more stayed behind.
“About 70 Myanmar undocumented workers are left there and have been working in order to get back their unpaid wages,” he said.
Those that fled the factory are being detained by police under an agreement reached among Thai and Myanmar officials and migrant rights groups. They will be imprisoned for 48 days in accordance with Thai immigration law, said the embassy official.
“Now, we are working to get back unpaid wages quickly by cooperating with Thailand’s labour officials. As soon as we get back the unpaid wages, all workers will be sent back to Myanmar’s border by the immigration police force,” said Ko Ye Min, also from the AAC.
The factory has employed Myanmar migrant workers over the past decade, but the 162 MoU workers were sent by the Moon Beam overseas employment agency in May of this year.
The legal migrant workers staged a strike on August 17, after the factory owner four days earlier had failed to pay wages on schedule.
The AAC and other civil society organisations later stepped in to donate food and water supplies to the workers, who were unable to support themselves after their pay was delayed.
More than 140 of the workers have since received their back pay and have been employed at other factories in Thailand under the terms of their MoU, the Moon Beam employment agency’s managing director Daw Ei Ei Tha and embassy official U Aung Moe Khaing told The Myanmar Times.