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Fresh delays for registration of migrant workers in Thailand

The Myanmar Times - 10 March 2015 - More than half a million Myanmar migrant workers are stuck in limbo after Thailand announced over the weekend yet another series of deadlines and registration processes for foreign workers.

More than half a million Myanmar migrant workers are stuck in limbo after Thailand announced over the weekend yet another series of deadlines and registration processes for foreign workers.

The Myanmar migrants are holding a handful of temporary documents with ever-approaching expiration dates while they wait for Thailand to approve a new registration scheme.

Earlier this month, Myanmar announced plans to issue “certificates of identity” to more than 640,000 migrants and their dependents who hold temporary work permits and residency cards set to expire on March 31.

But according to the National News Bureau of Thailand, the documents are now good for another three months and subject to further extensions as Thailand’s military junta undertakes yet another attempt to regularise the largely undocumented foreign labour force.

Cambodian, Laotian and Myanmar migrants who have their nationality verified by their embassy before March 31 will now be permitted to work for another two years in Thailand, according to a cabinet resolution dated March 3.

Temporary work permit holders who are not verified by March 31 will have until June 30 to apply for a year-long registration that can be extended upon completion of the national verification. Migrants who fail to meet the new June 30 deadline face the threat of arrest and deportation.

Most of the 640,000 Myanmar migrants awaiting verification are on standby, however, awaiting a newly unveiled ID program to gain Thailand’s blessing, said U Tun, a program officer at the Myanmar Migrant Workers Network.

‘’As far as I know, the plan is not finalised yet,” he said.

The processing and waiting time for Myanmar migrants is complicated by the fact that many lack official identification documents from their own government. Without a national ID and Myanmar household registration, Myanmar citizens cannot obtain a passport.

The new certificate program could rectify this – but only if it allowed to get under way.

“We do not know why the Thai authorities have not approved it so far,” said U Moe Gyo, chair of the Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affairs, which is based across the border in Mae Sot.

Myanmar’s Labour Ministry said it is ready to begin accepting applications as soon as Thailand gives it the green light. But so far, Thailand hasn’t even provided a timeline for possible approval.

“Thai officials said the plan will have to be submitted to parliament,” said U Thein Win, director of the Labour Affairs Department. “So we just have to wait for that.”

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Source: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/13433-fresh-delays-for-registration-of-migrant-workers-in-thailand.html

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