Law­mak­ers call for stronger pro­tec­tion of over­seas work­ers

The Myanmar Times - - News - SWAN YE HTUT swanye­htut@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Thiri Min Htun

STRONGER laws are needed to pro­tect Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers from ex­ploita­tion and abuse, MPs de­manded yes­ter­day. They said the 10 per­cent of Myan­mar cit­i­zens work­ing over­seas de­served more help from their gov­ern­ment.

The gov­ern­ment should re­spect and value its cit­i­zens over­seas and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their safety, Daw Nan Moe (TPNP; Man­ton) told the Pyithu Hlut­taw.

She was sup­port­ing a pro­posal urg­ing the Union gov­ern­ment to help Myan­mar na­tion­als forced to work abroad be­cause of job­less­ness and low wages at home from be­ing used as forced labour, bul­lied, in­sulted, ar­rested, tor­tured or even killed, by li­ais­ing with the gov­ern­ments con­cerned, and to take swift ac­tion ac­cord­ingly.

Daw Nan Moe said most Myan­mar work­ers in China were eth­nic Palaung and Shan cit­i­zens from north­ern Shan State who had been forced from their homes by high un­em­ploy­ment, in­sta­bil­ity and traf­fick­ing.

Women and chil­dren were the prin­ci­pal vic­tims, she said. “They are traf­ficked as sex work­ers. Some are work­ing as house­maids, or sold as brides.”

Most Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers in China had been traf­ficked, and of 110 cases she cited, 95 were women, she said.

The MP, who rep­re­sents the Ta’ang (Palaung) Na­tional Party, put for­ward a plan that would pro­tect Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers through gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions; cre­ate job op­por­tu­ni­ties in re­gions of high un­em­ploy­ment; en­act a law pro­tect­ing mi­grant work­ers; re­spect and value cit­i­zens and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for them; and is­sue labour ID cards for work­ers in China through ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment.

“Cre­at­ing jobs will take time, so is­su­ing labour cards is the best so­lu­tion for the time be­ing. It could pro­tect mi­grant work­ers in China,” she said.

U Thaung Htay Linn (NLD; Pathe­ingyi) said Myan­mar peo­ple had to work abroad be­cause of job scarcity and low wages at home. Res­i­dents of bor­der ar­eas had to work abroad be­cause of in­se­cu­rity and bad roads, which stopped them sell­ing their pro­duce. Many jobs over­seas were dif­fi­cult, un­san­i­tary and ill-suited to the many mi­grant work­ers who are grad­u­ates, he said. He put the num­ber of peo­ple leav­ing Myan­mar to work abroad at 10pc of the pop­u­la­tion.

“The gov­ern­ment has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to help mi­grant work­ers, who face ar­rest and tor­ture by em­ploy­ers in col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal po­lice, as well as rob­bery, threats and ex­tor­tion,” he said.

As a first step, the gov­ern­ment should re­lease a state­ment ac­knowl­edg­ing its re­spon­si­bil­ity for its cit­i­zens, said Dr Kyi Moh Moh Lwin (NLD; Sin­gaing), and to take up their prob­lems with the other gov­ern­ments con­cerned.

“It’s nec­es­sary to sim­plify the process of le­gal­is­ing their sta­tus. Our em­bassies over­seas should com­pile lists of le­gal and il­le­gal work­ers,” she said.

The pro­posal was sub­mit­ted by U Kyaw Aung Lwin (NLD; Si­dok­taya) on Septem­ber 21. Ten MPs have al­ready taken part in the de­bate and six more, as well as the im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials con­cerned, have yet to speak.

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