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THE NATION: 980430: Reprieve from
- Subject: THE NATION: 980430: Reprieve from
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 11:32:00
Reprieve from illegal
labour purge given
THE government yesterday postponed for
one month the planned May Day crackdown
on illegal immigrant workers for selected
businesses that rely heavily on their labour.
However, on Friday the nationwide action
will still be taken for all businesses other
than fishery, which was previously granted
the privilege, and three more -- rice mills,
quarries and rubber farms.
Deputy Prime Minister Bhichai Rattakul,
who chairs the committee and presided
over yesterday's meeting, said the four
types of business had been given the extra
one month because there were very few
Thai workers willing to tolerate the working
conditions and low pay involved, making
foreign labour a necessity.
''The problem is that the committee has no
information from businessmen, so we have
asked for more time to make a survey,'' he
said after the end of the committee's
''If we take action against illegal workers
too quickly it could hurt the economy
because we can't find replacement workers
in time,'' he added.
After the one-month period, Bhichai said a
thorough, nationwide inspection of the three
types of business -- other than fishery -- by
the Labour Ministry and immigration police
would be needed to determine whether the
ministry should give them another leniency
He explained that Labour Minister Trairong
Suwankhiri would then use his full and
independent authority to decide on the
matter, without the need for Cabinet
Bhichai yesterday dismissed a report that
the three businesses were given the
exemption period because they were
owned by certain politicians. ''There is
nothing [untoward] behind the committee's
decision,'' he added.
According to Bhichai, more than 191,000
foreign labourers, mostly Burmese, had
been sent home since the plan began late
last year. The government plans to send
another 300,000, from the estimated total
of one million nationwide, to their home
countries by the end of this year.
The Cabinet on Tuesday refused to decide
on the proposed relaxation, saying it did not
have enough time to consider the idea with
just two days to go before the first stage of
repatriations were scheduled to begin.
It instead agreed to accept the decision of
the committee, which would likely
recommend some alien workers be
allowed to stay in designated industries
and provinces for up to one year.
''We have asked for a relaxation of the
policy for certain occupations and areas
because we cannot replace those people
immediately with Thai workers,'' said
Deputy Labour Minister Jongchai
Thiangtham, who has supervised the May
Earlier in the day, a group of rice mill
owners met Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai
at his residence to ask him to consider
granting the exemption for their business.
They also met Bhichai and made the same
request before the meeting began.