Laos and Thailand to cooperate on migrant workers’ issues and rising Covid-19 cases at the border

VIENTIANE, July 11 (Vientiane Times/ANN): The Lao and Thai authorities agreed to continue their efforts to resolve labour-related issues to ensure safe labour migration.

This should include workers get access to permanent employment and being entitled to sound and just welfare measures in Thailand amid the spread of Covid-19.

At a time when Thailand is fighting a tough battle against Covid-19 and new variants of the virus, both countries will review their labour policy to provide help to Lao workers, including those affected by the closure of factories due to the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.

Thai authorities have also agreed to gather detailed information on migrant workers who left their jobs in Thailand as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. Most of these workers had jobs in the industrial and services sectors.

The migrant workers will have to sign up online and be registered by an employer before mid-September in order to receive a work permit that will be valid until February 2023.

Lao labour authorities and their Thai counterparts discussed these issues during a virtual conference on labour management.

They also considered ways to resolve the problem of undocumented workforce, including focusing on helping illegal workers wanting to return home or assisting those who wish to continue working in Thailand legally.

The Director General of the Department of Labour Skill Development and Employment under the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Anousone Khamsingsavath, said that the Lao side proposed to Thai officials that undocumented migrant workers from Laos should be allowed to work legally for about two years till the crisis caused by Covid-19 eases.

She said the Lao authorities also proposed to their Thai counterparts that they should upgrade the nationality status of Lao workers in Thailand, including the provision of benefits as stipulated in social security regulations.

The Lao workers should also be able to access free vaccines in Thailand and Thai authority should ensure employers take responsibility for sending back workers who have been repatriated, she said.

“Every year, we have held a meeting with Thai official’s in-charge of labour management to solve the problem of undocumented workforce by focusing on helping illegal workers who want to return home or continue to work in Thailand legally, ” she said.

According to recent reports in the Thai media, the Thai government has begun screening migrant workers in areas at risk, resulting in some employers moving illegal migrant workers out of certain areas to avoid breaking the law.

Thailand has about 2.2 million registered migrant workers, mainly from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, but many others work informally in sectors such as fishing, farming, construction and industries. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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