Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rise in child labour feared over Thai policy

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - The Thai Government’s policy of not registering families of migrant workers is likely to escalate the problems of child labour, a social worker said.

Executive Director of the Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation, Sompong Srakaew, who works in close tandem with migrants in Samut Sakorn Province, told Mizzima that the recent government policy to register and verify the nationality of migrant workers from neighbouring countries, particularly Burma, but excluding their family members, may create more child labour issues.

“Many of them have to tell lies that they are older, than their actual age, so that the Thai authorities let them live and work in Thailand, with their parents. Some of them were unable to go to school, because they had to take care of their younger sisters or brothers and help their parents to work,” he said.

In 2004, the Thai government had set up registration for family members of migrants, but later it cancelled this policy. During that time there were about 3,000 migrant children in Samut Sakorn Province, one of the biggest towns in Thailand, which has a thriving fisheries industry.

However, the total number of migrant children is expected to increase to 10, 000, only in Samut Sakorn.

Activists are of the opinion that the registration of these children would show the number of children, who should be in school and then medical and other necessary public facilities could be provided for them.

A 10-year-old girl in Mahachai district of Samut Sakorn told Mizzima that she was attending a local school, but after her sister was born her mother needed her to help at home.

“In addition, the school I went to was quite far from home, so it was difficult to continue,” she said.

The girl also said that in the morning she works at a small frozen prawn factory, while her mother also works there and in the evening she helps her mother take care of her sister.

Many children have to live alone, while their parents are working. Normally these are small rooms in apartments, where hundreds of workers live as a community.

The Thai authorities allow young people above 15, to work in some businesses, but a large number of children aged under 15 told the employers that they were 15 years old. Some employers also reported the child worker’s ages to the authorities and let them work, generally in bad conditions, both in below standard payment and environment.

Local authorities estimated that current statistics of workers in the province is up to 300, 000. Mainly they work in fishery industries, such as prawn shell peeling and cleaning seafood for frozen business. The biggest groups of workers are ethnic Mon, Burmese and some are Kachin and Karen people.

Recent Posts from Burma Wants Freedom and Democracy

Recent posts from WHO is WHO in Burma


The Nuke Light of Myanmar Fan Box
The Nuke Light of Myanmar on Facebook
Promote your Page too