Tue 30 Aug 2005
Filed under: News,Regional
The Thai Sardine factory authorities in Banbon, Bangkok have laid off over 700 Burmese workers for not having work permits.
The Sardine factory authorities ordered all undocumented workers to leave the factory within three days. Initially the factory owners thought that the new comers will get work permits but later found out that only old workers can renew their work permits. No new work permits will be issued to the newcomers. Then the factory authorities decided to throw out the newcomers and evicted them from the factory premises.
Man New Ni Soe from Dawai (Taway) who came to Bangkok only three months ago told Mizzima that ” They gave us only one or two days to leave and we have no time for any kind of preparation. We have no money, and we still have to pay back 7,000 Bhat to the human carriers and brokers. Those who have their kith and kin here can still get assistance. How can I go back home without assistance? I must find a new job here.”
The Thai government has set August 31 as the deadline for registration. Over 3,000 Burmese workers were employed in this sardine factory of which over 700 workers are undocumented.
The Burmese interpreter Ko San Kyi said that the factory owner tried his best for getting work permits for the newcomers by negotiating with government officials. His efforts failed. He had to lay off and evict the newcomers who cannot be registered under the country’s labour regulations.
“Yes the boss threw them out in haste and regretted not being able to give them enough time. He tried to get work permit till the last moment and wanted even more workers for the expansion of the factory. He is facing a shortage of workers,” he added.
Most of the workers are from Taway (Dawai) and came to Ranong. They were brought to Bangkok by human traffickers. They charged Bhats 7, 000 for bringing each of them over. Moreover the workers have to pay a so-called ‘admission fee’ of Bhat 3,000 each for clothes, rented home, security, water and electricity bills. The registration fees are Bhat 3,000 per head and this is extra.
The working hours in this factory are 10 hours a day and six days a week. The wage is Bhat 185 a day.
Thailand’s labour department has issued registration which reads that unregistered workers can be punished up to three months in prison and will have to pay Bhat 5, 000 as fine. The fine will be Bhat 60,000 and up to three years imprisonment for the factory owner. Many think there will be more raids and arrests after this deadline.
The alien workers are mostly employed in category 3 D (dangerous, dirty and difficult) in Thailand. Most of these alien workers are from Burma while others are from Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and the Chinese from Yunan province. Lakhs of Burmese workers are employed as housemaids, factory workers, cargo handlers, construction and plantation workers.