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More Lao workers return home from Thailand

Many of an estimated 150,000 Lao labourers working in Thailand (both legally and illegally) have continued to return home after Thailand enforced regulations relating to employment of unregistered migrant workers.

In Champassak province, many workers, notably those who entered Thailand illegally, returned home as they feared law enforcement action against migrant labour, an official in charge has confirmed.

Director of Champassak Provincial Department of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Khambay Bounluang told Vientiane Times yesterday that many have returned to Laos but they did not inform authorities.

“We will work with district authorities to register Lao workers returning from Thailand. Our authorities will also register those who will come back permanently as well as those who will go back to Thailand in the near future,” he said.

For those returning to Thailand, authorities will encourage them to pursue a legal process so they won't fear the law while working in Thailand.

Mr Khambay said about 3,700 Lao people worked legally in Thailand through recruitment companies and around 25,000 crossed the border to work in Thailand illegally.

Acting Director General of Skills Development and Employment Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ms Anousone Khamsingsavath said about 800 people have returned to Laos with the assistance of the Lao Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. “Our ministry is working with provincial authorities to assist Lao people returning to Laos. We will not only register their return but also encourage them to go to work in Thailand with our 19 recruitment companies,” he said.

“Meanwhile Thai employers also need Lao workers to work on their farms and in factories so it's important for authorities of both countries together to address the problem.”

Laos shares a lengthy border with Thailand and many people living in adjacent provinces like to cross the border and work in Laos' southern neighbour.

Officials said many will go to work in Thailand after they finish their rice farming.

The Thai side has informed Lao authorities that at present, there are around 71,000 Lao workers with pink cards, a temporary identity document, in Thailand. Ms Anousone said Lao authorities planned to go to Thailand in August to verify the nationality of Lao workers.

Thailand is a destination for migrant workers from Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar with the total number expected to reach 1.5 million people. Of which the number of Lao workers makes up 10 percent with the rest being from Myanmar (60 percent) and Cambodia (30 percent).

For Laos, many people cross the border to work in Thailand in the hope of earning higher wages to improve their livelihoods.

Meanwhile, the Lao government is working to promote the investment sector, particularly industrial development, aiming to generate job opportunities for local people so they can seek employment at home instead of crossing the border to work in Thailand illegally.

By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update July 20, 2017)


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