Calls to mod­er­ate for­eign worker laws

Bangkok Post - - NATIONAL - OM JOTIKASTHIRA

Econ­o­mists and busi­ness op­er­a­tors have urged the govern­ment to im­ple­ment more prac­ti­cal mea­sures in its ef­forts to reg­u­late the flow of for­eign labour into the coun­try, a sem­i­nar has been told.

Pan­el­lists at the re­cent event dis­cussed the govern­ment’s man­age­ment of the Royal De­cree on Re­cruit­ment of For­eign­ers, par­tic­u­larly re­gard­ing the harsher penal­ties for those who em­ploy for­eign work­ers with­out work per­mits.

Im­ple­mented on June 23 af­ter it was an­nounced in the Royal Gazette, the de­cree states those who em­ploy un­reg­is­tered for­eign work­ers can face a fine of up to 800,000 baht per worker.

Em­ploy­ers who em­ploy mi­grant work­ers to do jobs which are not spec­i­fied un­der the terms of their work per­mit could be fined up to 400,000 baht each per worker.

Vice chair­man of the Fed­er­a­tion of Thai In­dus­tries Suchart Chan­taranakaracha said the penal­ties were too harsh and “did not fit the crime”.

“In prac­ti­cal us­age, if the penal­ties are harsher than the sever­ity of the crime, per­pe­tra­tors could go to greater lengths to con­ceal their crimes,” he said. “On the au­thor­i­ties’ part, it could also prove to be an op­por­tu­nity for bribery and other ways of per­sonal gain.”

An­other pan­el­list, Asst Prof Su­pachai Srisuchart, di­rec­tor at the In­sti­tute for Con­tin­u­ing Ed­u­ca­tion and Hu­man Re­sources at Tham­masat Univer­sity, sup­ported the royal de­cree, but said it needs to be “pack­aged bet­ter”, hav­ing been im­ple­mented too quickly.

“It must be taken into ac­count how stag­nant we have be­come in ac­tu­ally im­prov­ing the skills of Thai work­ers, af­ter we have been re­ly­ing on cheaper, for­eign labour for such a long time,” Mr Su­pachai said.

“Changes from the de­cree have been im­me­di­ately en­forced, and will un­doubt­edly af­fect small busi­nesses that have thus far re­lied on these work­ers to sus­tain their liveli­hood.”

How­ever, as many mi­grant work­ers were still re­port­edly work­ing with­out work per­mits af­ter the de­cree was an­nounced, the regime in­voked the Sec­tion 44 or­der in July to post­pone the penal­ties for a fur­ther 180 days.

Mr Su­pachai said an­other prob­lem the royal de­cree’s im­ple­men­ta­tion must ad­dress is how to speed up the na­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process for reg­is­tered mi­grant work­ers, par­tic­u­larly Myan­mar, Lao and Cam­bo­dian na­tion­als, as part of a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing (MOU) among the re­spec­tive coun­tries and Thai­land.

Mean­while, Mr Suchart added the govern­ment should also look to re­view a 1979 royal de­cree that bans for­eign­ers from do­ing 39 jobs in Thai­land, say­ing the list has be­come out­dated.

“For­eign labour is a ne­ces­sity, be­cause there still ex­ist sev­eral jobs that Thais per­sis­tently refuse to do, such as brick­lay­ing and other con­struc­tion work,” he said. “These jobs are still con­sid­ered pro­hib­ited oc­cu­pa­tions for for­eign­ers, yet many Myan­mar na­tion­als are seen each day at con­struc­tion sites.”

Pri­vate busi­ness op­er­a­tors are re­quest­ing the govern­ment al­low mi­grant work­ers to do 10 jobs which are cur­rently re­served for Thai na­tion­als un­der the law.

They in­clude farm­ing, brick­lay­ing, car­pen­try, masseurs or masseuses, se­cu­rity guards, mak­ing jewellery and earth­en­ware, and shoe­mak­ing.

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