Open letter to Governor of Chiang Mai

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Request to resolve migrant workers’ problems

To: Governor of Chiang Mai / Law Reform Commission of Thailand; December 18 is proclaimed as “International Migrants Day” every year. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in 1990 as a mechanism for migrant workers to receive protection of their human rights and labour rights. It has been 24 years since the UN adopted the convention, but migrants are still far from receiving “fair and equal protection of human and labor rights.” Currently, migrants in Thailand are facing a number of problems; for example, migrant registration has complicated procedures, the process of national verification is slow, brokers charge exorbitant fees, and employers withhold migrant workers’ passports and work permits.

In addition, migrants who have received a visa and worked in Thailand longer than 4 years are considered as illegal migrants as their visas have expired. Since the Thai government does not have a clear channel for migrants to extend their work permit, many decided to register through the One Stop Service Center. This resulted in those migrants losing the benefits accrued under social security. The ability to access social security is also a challenge as migrant workers’ employers are responsible for registering them, but many do not. At the same time, officers in the Social Security office fail to enforce the law against employers who do not register their workers. The social security law does not cover some sectors of work, such as agriculture and domestic work; and migrant workers cannot fully access the 7 benefits of social security such as unemployment, retirement, and mother and child support for six years after birth.

On International Migrants Day 2014, eight migrants-rights organizations including MAP Foundation, Workers Solidarity Association (WSA), Migrant Workers Federation (MWF), Mekong Migration Network (MMN), Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Shan Youth Power (SYP) and Empower Foundation, in order to advance migrants human rights, would like to propose recommendations to the Governor of Chiang Mai and the Law Reform Commission of Thailand as follows:

Recommendations to the Governor of Chiang Mai:

1. The Governor of Chiang Mai should have a clear and strict process to eliminate brokers who seek to take advantage of migrants by registering them without actually employing them. This is in part because brokers who register migrants are not migrants’ employers, and therefore those migrants are unable to register with social security.

2. The Governor of Chiang Mai should strictly ensure that law enforcement will strictly carry out their duty, especially making sure that employers comply with the labor law.

3. The Governor of Chiang Mai should establish a mechanism such as sub-committee at the provincial level to monitor and to solve the problems of migrant workers. This sub-committee should be composed of all stakeholders, including representatives of CBOs, government officials, migrant advocate groups and employers.

Recommendation to the Law Reform Commission:

1. The Law Reform Commission should amend the Social Security Act to cover all occupations and sectors of work to allow migrant workers in agriculture and domestic work to access the Social Security System.

2. The Law Reform Commission should improve the ministerial orders and guidelines to allow migrant workers to access all 7 benefits of Social Security equally to Thais.

Signed by:

Workers Solidarity Association (WSA)

Migrant Workers Federation (MWF)

MAP Foundation

Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)

Shan Youth Power (SYP)

Mekong Migration Network (MMN)

Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN)

Empower Foundation