Thailand, Vietnam reach pact on guest worker reform

11-Mar-2015 Intellasia | VOV | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The Vietnam-Thailand economies will get a lift when a new agreement overhauling the two nation’s guest worker programmes comes into effect this June.

Relaxed rules will make it much easier and less costly for Vietnamese workers to secure jobs in Thailand that provide better wages and safer work conditions among other benefits.

Recently a delegation from the Thai Ministry of Labour a two-day working visit to Vietnam to finalise the agreement with the Vietnam Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA).

MoLISA deputy minister Nguyen Thanh Hoa sat down with People’s Public Security (Cong An Nhan Dan) Newspaper for an interview on the status of the agreement.

Following are key excerpts from the interview.

Reporter: The Thai government has recently started to allow Vietnam workers to register at its labour centres for one-year work permits free of charge. Is this part of the new agreement?

Hoa: Yes, two years ago we conducted a survey of the Thai labour market and worked with Thai officials aimed at developing an agreement. That was subsequently put off due to political changes in Thailand.

However, late last year, leaders agreed to pick up where they left off and once again begin implementing it. We also invited the Thai Ministry of Labour to come to Vietnam on March 4-5 to finalise negotiations on a revised agreement we expect to sign later this month.

Reporter: Could you elaborate on the outcome of the negotiations at this point? What fields will Vietnam be sending workers in and what about their wages?

Hoa: The two sides focused discussions on protecting workers safety and rights to pay along with, ensuring their working conditions were adequate. We also discussed setting up grievance procedures and worker representative offices in Thailand.

Thailand has a high demand for workers primarily in the construction and fishing industries. To a lesser degree they need people in other industries as well.

In terms of wages, Vietnamese workers in Thailand will be treated on an equal basis with local workers and paid the local market rate. Currently the average income of Thai workers in rural areas is $500 per month while in the city it is at least $1,000 per month.

It should be noted that wages in Thailand are substantially equivalent to those in Malaysia and they will be allowed to work in Thailand for 2-3 years.

Reporter: The majority of these workers are from farming villages in central Vietnam. Does the Ministry know the exact number of Vietnamese workers in Thailand?

Hoa: Most workers gained entry to Thailand as tourists and then remained in the country illegally after their Visas expired. So there is no exact count of the number of workers. However, Thailand officials estimate there are somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 of them in the country.

An official number of workers will be announced after the new registration campaign has been completed.

Reporter: How does the issue of fees affect implementing the agreement?

Hoa: The fees should not present any problem. Previously, workers had to spend a lot of time and money travelling to border gates and obtaining visas, which was quite expensive.

But now if they register with the Thai authority they avoid all the extra cost and stay for a longer period of time. So overall it will be less costly for the worker than previously.

Additionally, Thailand is more readily accessible than Malaysia and so workers will now be able to earn the same wages they would have earned in Malaysia at great savings in travel costs back and forth as well as fees.

So the new agreement is a good deal for Vietnamese guest workers.

In addition, Thailand has been cracking down on illegal workers in the country and has been levying huge fines on those they catch. So it is in everyone’s best interest, especially the workers to register.

Reporter: What is the meaning of the agreement as guest workers to traditional market face difficulties?

Hoa: Thailand now recruits workers from Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar only. This is the first time the country has officially consented to employ Vietnamese workers in select fields. This is a legal and safe migration channel that will provide higher wages for workers.

Labour management agencies are accelerating the conclusion of negotiations this month in order to sign the agreement during the Thailand visit in June by prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Reporter: Thank you very much.


Category: Economy, Vietnam

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