Stricter pol­icy for over­seas work­ers com­ing

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­

MYAN­MAR will re-in­tro­duce a more strin­gent per­mit sys­tem for cit­i­zens wish­ing to work abroad start­ing on Jan­uary 1, 2017. The new sys­tem aims at stamp­ing out ex­ploita­tion of mi­grant work­ers by em­ploy­ment bro­kers, ac­cord­ing to labour min­istry of­fi­cials.

Un­der the cur­rent sys­tem, em­ploy­ment bro­kers are able to ap­ply for pass­ports and visas at one of Myan­mar’s over­seas em­ploy­ment agen­cies on be­half of work­ers.

In the past, the Min­istry of Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion had re­laxed its re­quire­ments for mi­grant work­ers in an at­tempt to re­duce de­lays and al­low work­ers to travel over­seas quickly.

Fol­low­ing the re­forms an­nounced by the nin­istry, an old sys­tem to deal with mi­grant work­ers will be read­opted re­quir­ing work­ers to ap­ply di­rectly with em­ploy­ment agen­cies for their travel doc­u­men­ta­tion.

Work­ers will no longer be able to leave the coun­try for em­ploy­ment abroad on a vis­i­tor’s visa.

“There have been many in­stances of ex­ces­sive over­charg­ing by bro­kers. This is why we are restart­ing our old sys­tem,” said U Myo Aung, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary at the Min­istry of Labour.

He added that many bro­kers charge work­ers fees of K500,000 to K600,000 de­spite the le­gal limit on agency fees be­ing K150,000.

The main rea­son for the change, U Myo Aun said, was to pro­tect work­ers from ex­ploita­tion, but the re­turn to the old sys­tem will also al­low the gov­ern­ment to col­lect bet­ter data on out­go­ing mi­grant work­ers.

The re­turn to the for­mer, more strin­gent sys­tem will mean that mi­grant work­ers will only be able re­ceive the nec­es­sary travel doc­u­ments from a li­censed agency and they must have a let­ter of sup­port from an over­seas em­ploy­ment agency or em­ployer, ac­cord­ing to Daw Tin Nwe Oo, deputy di­rec­tor of the Min­istry of Labour.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of both li­censed em­ploy­ment agen­cies and work­ers unions spoke favourably of the pro­posed re­forms.

“Bro­kers can no longer ap­ply for the doc­u­ments. Only work­ers can ap­ply for them with the help of over­seas em­ploy­ment agen­cies or em­ploy­ers. Bro­kers don’t like our new sys­tem but it is good for work­ers,” said U Kyaw Zaw, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Myan­mar Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies Fed­er­a­tion.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate this sys­tem. I be­lieve it can give greater guar­an­tees of safety for our work­ers, even if it isn’t per­fect,” said Ko Hein Latt, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the mi­grant af­fairs depart­ment of the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions of Myan­mar.

The min­istry has said that ex­ist­ing mi­grant work­ers should seek out these new work per­mits in the two months be­fore the sys­tem is of­fi­cially im­ple­mented.

Each month, nearly 7000 Myan­mar cit­i­zens travel to neigh­bour­ing Thai­land and Malaysia for work, where they are put at sig­nif­i­cant risk of ex­ploita­tion by em­ploy­ers and ha­rass­ment by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Photo: Zarni Phyo

A Myan­mar mi­grant worker holds up two dif­fer­ent pass­ports. The re­turn of an old sys­tem for mi­grant worker per­mit­ting seeks to curb ex­ploita­tion.

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