Immigrant workers must register by 31st or face expulsionn

All illegal migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia and Laos who have not registered with the government by Saturday’s deadline will be deported, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said yesterday.

‘After July 31 illegal workers will be arrested and deported to their countries in any circumstances,’ the prime minister said in his weekly radio address.

He called on local officials to try to get as many illegal workers in their areas as possible to register.

The government launched the registration of illegal workers from the three countries on July 1, aiming for a longterm solution to the massive influx of foreign workers. About 1.2 million are expected to register with the Labour Ministry.

Thailand has long been a prime destination for migrants from neighbouring countries who flee their homelands for fear of political persecution or in search of better economic prospects. Their lack of legal status has made them subject to exploitation.

One example is that of Burmese workers in a Taiwanese owned company in Tak province’s Mae Sot district, who were fired in 2002 after demanding that their employer pay them the minimum daily wage of Bt133 in accordance with Thai law.

Thaksin said 766,643 illegal workers had registered so far, of whom 550,000 were Burmese, 115,000 Laotian and 97,000 Cambodian.

He said that unscrupulous agents who had offered to register illegal workers for a smaller fee than that set by the government would face legal action for deception.

Migrant workers who register with the government have to pay a Bt3,800 fee for a medical checkup, medical insurance and a work permit.

Traffickers of migrant workers into Thailand will face up to 10 years in jail, a Bt100,000 fine or both, and their wealth may be confiscated by the AntiMoney Laundering Office, Interior Minister Wan Muhamad Noor Matha told officials at a meeting in Chiang Mai’s City Hall yesterday.

He said the prime minister had agreed to offer rewards for tipoffs that led to the arrest of human traffickers and illegal workers after the registration period.

Officials will carry out searches of workplaces and households suspected of hiring illegal workers from August 1, Wan Noor said.

‘The employers of illegal workers and the workers themselves will face severe penalties as this problem has an impact on national security,’ he said.