On January 14, 2022, at 09.00 hours, Assistant to the Labour Minister Mr. Surachai Chaitrakulthong presided over the opening ceremony of the bilateral meeting to promote the ethical and fair recruitment of workers between Cambodia and Thailand during and after the COVID-19 outbreak. The meeting took place via teleconference system on Zoom. He said that migrant workers from neighboring countries are important in driving Thailand’s economy in various industrial sectors. There are over 2.1 million registered migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, of which 448,492 are Cambodian workers. Most of them work in the construction, agriculture, services sectors, manufacturing or sale of food and beverages, wholesale, retail, and market stalls.
Thailand and Cambodia signed the first MOU on Labour Cooperation in 2003. It was considered the starting point for promoting the regular and safe migration of Cambodian workers to work in Thailand, promoting comprehensive and ethical employment to prevent human trafficking, and eliminating exploitation among migrant workers. In addition, the Ministry of Labour has continuously developed laws and regulations to promote ethical and fair recruitment of workers. There is a policy to manage the work of foreigners, which is operated under the Emergency Decree on the Management of Foreign Workers B.E. 2560 and its amendments B.E. 2561. It prohibits the collection of recruitment fees from migrant workers and controls the process of hiring migrant workers to be transparent and fair. It also respects the rights of workers, ensuring they are treated equally. From the outbreak of COVID-19, Thailand had had to delay bringing in workers since the end of March 2020. The Ministry of Labour has set measures and guidelines for managing the work of foreigners in the country according to the Cabinet’s resolution to alleviate labour shortages among employers and enterprises. It has also helped migrant workers stay and work in the Kingdom temporarily, allowing foreigners with illegal statuses to work legally. There are also measures to help migrant workers under the COVID-19 outbreak, which are the same measures used to help Thai workers, ensuring no discrimination. The measures include providing vaccination services, providing advice on how to protect and take care of oneself, and food donations for construction workers who were affected by the closure of construction sites.
The Ministry of Labour has worked with the Ministry of Public Health, the Immigration Bureau, the Department of Provincial Administration, and related agencies in considering the guidelines for bringing migrant workers to work with employers in Thailand under the MOU system amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort aims to provide employers and workplaces with sufficient labour to drive business and the country’s economy and fix the issue of smuggling workers into the country to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19 systematically. It also aims to enable migrant workers to enter the legal employment system that will benefit Thailand’s economy, public health, security, and the country’s employment system. For example, the employer will be responsible for operating expenses such as quarantine fees and COVID-19 testing fees.
Mr. Surachai added that all of these efforts would not succeed if there was a lack of cooperation from all parties involved. He thanked the Cambodian government for their continued cooperation in labour and congratulated the IOM office in Thailand and Cambodia for organizing this meeting. He said that he sincerely hoped that the bilateral meeting would be an important platform to encourage the exchange of knowledge and opinions, to promote cooperation and friendship in the field of labour, strengthen procedures and legal processes pertaining to the migration of Cambodian workers to Thailand, as well as to move towards sustainable and ethical recruitment.
Division of Public Relations