Burma’s embassy in Bangkok has appointed a labour affairs official to provide assistance to migrant workers regarding workplace issues and rights, according to a government official.
The Labour Administration Department’s director Chit Shein, who was in Thailand last Friday with a delegation led by deputy labour minister Myint Thein, said the newly appointed official has already begun meeting with migrant worker groups in the country to gauge their situation.
“The labour official has taken office since December 18 and the embassy is to provide necessary assistance to migrants – we have already established communication and are keeping in touch with migrant communities,” said Chit Shein.
Under the previous military government, Burmese embassies in Thailand and Malaysia formed a Workers Protection Committee, but it was criticised by migrant communities there for not making efforts to protect them from discriminations and abuses.
Htoo Chit, Executive Director of Thailand-based Grassroots Human Rights Education and Development which assists Burmese migrants, expressed his optimism after meeting with the deputy labour minister and delegation on December 23.
“Honestly, based on what I saw, the new Burmese government, for the first time in the generation of governments for the past 20 years, is actually starting to pay attention on Burmese migrants’ issues and we would like to thank them for this,” said Htoo Chit.
“That would be very beneficial for the migrants as their government is now raising a voice on their issues. We feel positive that the government itself, not just NGOs like before, is getting involved.”
He added Thailand has fair and well-established labour laws but weak in application when dealing with migrant workers.
“Thailand has a decent labour law including for migrants but it just need to make sure if the law is actually followed by levels of authorities and employers,” he said.
“For example – according to the law here, every child has the right to go to school whether he or she has an ID card or not. However in some places they are not allowed to do so and we would like the [Burmese] government to also look into these things.”