Thailand’s employment department has recommended that the government extend its current ‘pink card’ migrant worker programme by a further two years.
The temporary residence (TR38) cards, introduced by Thailand in 2015, allow previously undocumented migrant workers to work safely in the country. The current agreement was set to expire this coming March, potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of Burmese workers in the kingdom. If the proposal is accepted, migrants will be able to work for another two years before renewing their permits. Foreign workers would be limited to an eight-year stretch of employment in Thailand.
A meeting between the Thai Department of Employment, led by director-general Arak Prommanee, and Burma’s Ministry of Labour was held in the southern Thai city of Pattaya on 12 and 13 of February.
Arak Prommanee said in the meeting that under the new proposal, migrants who travel to Thailand through authorised channels would be able to access legal protection and social welfare support under domestic labour laws.
The proposed programme only benefits foreign workers who have undergone a nationality verification process. Thai authorities will also ask the country’s cabinet to give illegal foreign labourers a chance to report to authorities to rectify their status, the Bangkok Post has reported.
Soe Naing, an attaché of the Burmese embassy in Bangkok, told DVB that Naypyidaw is ready to provide documents to Burmese migrants workers in Thailand ahead of Bangkok’s decision as to whether it will back the scheme.
“The [director-general] said a proposal was made to the cabinet to extend the validity of the cards for another two years, but the procedures and date can only be specified after the cabinet makes a decision. The Burmese government also agreed to issue the migrants a Certificate of Identity instead in the interim,” said Soe Naing. “The Thai cabinet is expected to reach a decision next week.”
He added that the bilateral meeting discussed banking options to enable migrants to pay a fee for the certificate.
According to a report in Thailand’s Manager Online, labour representatives from both nations signed a three-point agreement in the meeting. Items included the protection of migrants from human trafficking and exploitation and the creation of channels to legally and transparently send Burmese migrants to Thailand, as well as electronic information sharing measures between Bangkok and Naypyidaw to liaise on migrant matters and services.
Officials are expected to meet again in April.