Thailand faces an imminent acute labour shortage with more than one million migrant workers expected to be repatriated this weekend for failing to have completed nationality verification as required by the government, a senior member of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC) said today.
TCC Deputy Chairman Pumin Harinsut said the mass repatriation will greatly affect the manufacturing industry, as well as the tourism and hospitality sectors, contributing to reduced possible exports next year by as much as 5 per cent.
Thailand requires migrant workers to pass a complex nationality verification procedure by the end of the day today, and those who fail to leave the country will be prosecuted.
Mr Pumin said the TCC is awaiting the government’s immediate response to deal with the problem now that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has acknowledged the issue.
The cabinet earlier announced that repatriated workers could be re-employed in accord with agreements made with the migrant workers home countries.
Pote Aramwatananont, a TCC officer, said the government has not consulted the private sector on the re-employment of migrant workers regarding agreements reflected in various memoranda of understanding and that the new procedure will merely facilitate the Labour Ministry procedures, not the private sector where the workers are to be employed.
He said the repatriation of migrant workers without privision of new workers will have a severe negative impact on Thailand’s industrial manufacturing. agricultural production, food processing, fisheries, and the construction sector – all of which rely heavily on migrant labour.
Damage to the construction industry alone may reach 20 per cent of the sector’s total value, he said.
The Labour Ministry reported that 356.351 migrant workers are awaiting nationality verification while others working illegally in Thailand could number 500,000-800,000 persons. They are mainly from Myanmar, the Lao PDR and Cambodia. (MCOT online news)
The head of the U.N. International Labor Organization, Guy Ryder, is expected to urge Thailand to extend a Friday deadline for migrant workers to become documented or face deportation. Bangkok is threatening to deport more than a million migrant workers, most from Burma, who do not finish a process called nationality verification, which activists say is flawed. The United Nations agency opposes mass deportation.
Ryder is set to meet for a second time Saturday with the Minister of Labor. His visit to Thailand coincides with a December 14 deadline for all foreign workers to become documented or face deportation.
Thailand has about two and half million migrant laborers, mostly from Burma, but only half a million have completed the required process known as nationality verification or NV. Thai labor authorities have extended previous deadlines but appear to be firm on this latest one.
Thai trade unions that depend on cheaper foreign labor worry if deportations proceed their business could be affected, said Nilim Baruah is the ILO’s senior migrant specialist for the Asia Pacific.