The Ministry of Labour yesterday released data to show how many illegal migrant workers residing in Thailand have taken the first step to register with authorities there in order to gain all their proper paperwork.
According to a statement from the ministry’s Committee for Legalising Cambodian Workers Residing and Working in Thailand, the Thai Labour Ministry registered 195,627 employees through their employers, while another 8,105 workers registered on their own from July 24 to August 7.
“The number of 203,732 illegal Cambodian workers is lower than expected by the Thais, who in 2016 said there were more than 300,000 illegal Cambodian workers working in Thailand,” the statement said.
The statement added that the second step to legalise the workers will last until September 9, during which time all workers must appear at stations set up by Thai authorities to collect paperwork.
Dy Thehoya, a programme officer at labour rights group Central, said according to reports from his officers in Thailand, some employers have not taken part in the new system because they do not have faith in it.
The system, dubbed the 100-day campaign to legalise workers, was created after the Thai government began a crackdown on illegal workers that led to a mass labour exodus.
“Some Thai employers do not have confidence in this system, they think that it is complicated, expensive and that when it’s done, their workers may still be considered illegal,” said Mr Thehoya. “So, some of the Thai employers did not register their workers, but allowed them to return to Cambodia to gather their paperwork instead.”