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Lao workers’ status upgrades in Thailand behind schedule

Difficulty faced in accessing information by Lao workers in Thailand has been cited as one of the reasons for the slow pace of their registration and upgrade of nationality status in the neighbouring country.
However, Lao labour authorities expect the registration of Lao workers in Thailand to speed up under the employment cooperation agreement between the two countries.
Assistance centres in Thailand were expected to register and upgrade the status of 300-400 Lao workers each day by confirming their nationality, but in reality, have only been able to process 50-100 workers daily, according to a leading Lao official.
Minister of Labour and Social Welfare,  Dr Khampheng Xaysompheng told a meeting to discuss the upgrade of nationality status of Lao labour in Thailand on Tuesday that at present, an estimated 46,000 out of 71,000 Lao workers in Thailand who hold purple cards (work permits) have still not proven their identity.
He said from August last year until the end of last month 24,680 Lao nationals registered and upgraded their status. Unfortunately, many Lao workers have still not participated at numerous assistance centres in Thailand because they don’t understand the process, he said.
The Lao government has to rely on the Thai labour authority to distribute information about the issue but they have proposed to extend the agreement deadline from March until June of this year, he added.
The current employment cooperation agreement between Laos and Thailand is due to expire next month.
According to the ministry, under the cooperation agreement, Thailand opened multiple assistance centres which aim to confirm the nationality of workers so that officials are better placed to uphold their rights and ensure they do not suffer from mistreatment, under the ministry’s labour policy.
For several years, Lao workers in Thailand have not received protection under Thai law because they have not upgraded their status.
The Thai government has introduced pink cards for foreign workers without full documentation as an interim measure.
This gives workers time to apply for the necessary documents including a work permit and visa as well as a passport after confirming their nationality with their country of origin.
Lao workers account for about 10 percent of the 1.5 million casual labourers from Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar who are employed in Thailand.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update
February 22,
2018)


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