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Jul
17

New Thai labor rules send migrant workers packing for home – The Washington Post

Source: New Thai labor rules send migrant workers packing for home – The Washington Post

New Thai Labor Rules Send Migrant Workers Packing For Home.

This news seems to have nothing with the Made in the USA movement but if you look at this closely it has everything do do with it. Please see the end of the article for why it is pertinent.

An immigration official checks a vehicle before it leaves for Myanmar at a border checkpoint in the northern Thai province of Tak. Around 30,000 migrant workers have left Thailand.

July 3
BANGKOK — Fearful that Thailand’s new labor rules will get them into trouble, tens of thousands of migrant workers are returning to neighboring Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, causing hardship to themselves and their Thai employers.Labor regulations that took effect June 23 could give foreign workers without proper permits up to five years in prison, while their employers could face fines of up to 800,000 baht ($23,500).Officials and workers’ advocates estimated Monday that roughly 30,000 workers have returned home since the rules took effect.Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, under pressure from industries employing the migrants, says he’ll institute a 120-day extension of the deadline for worker registration.Thailand has about 2.6 million foreign workers, mostly from its poorer neighbors Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. Half are estimated to be working illegally. Many work in low-paying or dangerous jobs that Thais are reluctant to take, in fields such as construction, farming and fishing.

Thailand’s Labor Rights Promotion Network, a migrant rights advocate group, estimates that more than 30,000 workers have gone back home and that the number will keep increasing if the government does not come out with measures to reassure workers of their rights and safety.

Police Col. Man Ratanaprateep, based in the northern Thai province of Tak, which borders on Myanmar, said that as of Monday, more than 23,000 workers had crossed back to Myanmar at the province’s Mae Sot checkpoint alone, but others may have gone back at unofficial crossings.

 The regulations have caused the loss of 40,000 to 80,000 migrant workers from the construction industry, according to Suwat Liptapanlop, president of Thai Contractors Association. He did not say how many workers left on their own, or how many were pushed out by nervous employers.

[“We found that many workers were told to leave, some without being paid, by their employers. Now, with such a massive outflow, the government is talking about the grace period,” said Patima Tungpuchayakul of the Labor Rights Promotion Network, which is involved in the protection of migrant workers. “But the damage is already done. Poor migrant workers already are panicking and leaving the country. These are people who can’t afford travel expenses or living without employment.”

 She noted that workers who left would face a new round of expenses should they seek to return to work legally, because they would have to come up with payment fees to employment agencies. This could force them to borrow money again, making their labor a way of paying off the debt, a cycle that is known as debt bondage.] (This part was deleted by the Washington Post but was in the San Francisco Chronicle and SF Gate – funny what some newspapers will delete – Ed.)

Cambodia’s embassy in Thailand issued a statement over the weekend urging migrant workers to stay calm. It said the embassy and Labor Ministry officials were negotiating with Thai authorities, asking them not to crack down.

“Many migrants are fleeing Thailand voluntarily at a high cost; some employers cover costs, but many are also unceremoniously fired without compensation,” said Andy Hall, a longtime human rights worker with extensive experience with migrant workers.

“Thailand’s government is completely irresponsible, treating these low-skilled workers with high value to its economy like dispensable second-class citizens who don’t deserve basic treatment in accordance with international human rights standards,” he said.


Editor’s Note

Let us connect the dots to see how this story is pertinent to Made in USA products. Thailand like China have done great economically over the past 25 years by doubling down on cheap exports. So how do these Asian products come so cheap? First, you create relations with very wealthy American corporations and CEO’s who then lobby Washington who then create “Free Trade deals” which basically removes import taxes from these products from China – which undermines basic economic sanity. Import taxes were implemented so other countries do not undercut your own country’s products which would destroy American businesses, economy and jobs (which has happened). Why pass Free Trade treaties like NAFTA, WTO and TPP? One word: Greed. Then you have the added bonus of Free Trade policies – destroying of unions and decreasing wages of the middle class (Definite win, win and win for the top 1%.)

Second, you hire people at a very low price who get no benefits, no overtime,  and no safety restrictions. And then when you can’t get enough people in the city to work in these miserable conditions, you send out “agents” to recruit people from the agricultural areas to come to work. How do you get these people to work in the city? Answer: Debt bondage. For the promise of a better life (actually a lie), agents will charge these future employees fees for being recruited, for travel expenses, and for miscellaneous. Sometimes these workers will have to work for many months or years to get out this debt. (Slave Labor). Then, when you run out of people from farms, then you start recruiting from other countries. This has been happening for years in China and Thailand. For Thailand, the number of illegal immigrant workers is up to 2.6 million workers.

So this is the situation we are in now. American companies every day are outsourcing jobs to China, Thailand, Bangladesh, India, etc so we can have slave labor make cheap Old Navy clothing for us, while American workers salaries diminish and the American economy languishes. Sorry, Fake President, the economy is not doing well. A GDP of 0.7% is not good. Obviously this is not an ideal system, sooner or later, Americans might get physically ill when they realize that they are enabling slave labor all over the world. (Or not). But, also, countries will eventually run out of immigrants to work. This may take another 10-15 years. And then what? Finally, the cheap labor countries will start to paying their workers more. But this will be much too late to have any effect on American companies who will continue to outsource or go under, unless U.S. consumers change their mindset and their buying habits.

Last Item: Migration. This story shows that you do not need a wall to stop immigrants from coming in. In fact, the wall is a great folly. It won’t stop any immigration. What would stop immigration? Answer: An immigration policy that makes sense. In the Thailand policy, it threatens immigrants without proper paperwork with prison time up to 5 years (not just deportation) but even more importantly, punishes the employers who hire the illegal immigrants $23,500 for each worker. It would stop the hypocrites who rally against illegal immigrants who still hire these same illegal immigrants. Now, if you were truly serious about immigration, the policy would need to hit both sides: the employee and the employer.

So how about the jobs that regular Americans shun, the ones that only immigrants often work, like farming, roofers,housekeeper, graders/sorters and drywall/stucco installers? Would “regular” Americans take over the void? Unlikely. The most reasonable work around would be allowing more immigrant to work these jobs, but with the proper paperwork. This system should work well until the Republican Party allows the gross abuse of the system – then we would be back at the same place.

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