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BKK POST: Leading rice miller pl

May 1, 1998



              Leading rice miller
              plays down threat

              Trouble follows move against illegal

              The leader of the Rice Mills Association has played down
              reports of a planned protest by rice mill operators who have
              threatened to stop buying rice from farmers should the
              government go ahead with its plan to deport illegal workers.

              The threat arose after the government said it will crack down on
              illegal alien labour as part of a new policy to ease burgeoning
              domestic unemployment problems.

              The operators earlier called on the government to ease
              regulations on the employment of foreign workers in their
              factories, claiming they have hired workers to carry rice sacks.

              Nipon Wongtra-ngarn, association chairman, said such a threat
              would not be carried out or he would resign from the post.

              "This will not happen. But if it did happen, I would resign as
              chairman because such action would badly affect the country and
              the farmers," he said.

              He also urged the operators to wait for a couple of days to allow
              the Employment Department to survey the number of illegal
              workers and find replacements.

              The association has called a meeting of its members today to
              discuss the situation, he said.

              He added that he would ask the Police Department if the
              crackdown would cover illegal workers in the rice mill sector.

              The government has already agreed the deadline for repatriation
              of foreigners working for rice mills, quarries and rubber
              plantations will be extended for another 30 days.

              May Day was the previous deadline to start pushing back as
              many as 300,000 illegal workers to free up jobs for Thais hard
              hit by the economic slump.

              Pol Gen Pornsak Durongkavibul, deputy police director-general,
              said the crackdown will be launched in provinces where
              employment of alien workers is not allowed.

              According to a cabinet resolution, 13 border provinces and 22
              other provinces with fishery industries are allowed to hire alien
              workers to alleviate labour shortage problems.

              As of April 24, about 140,000 alien workers have been
              dismissed from the workforce and about 50,000 Thais have
              taken vacant jobs, according to the Labour and Social Welfare

              Former deputy labour minister Ekkaporn Rakkwamsuk slammed
              the repatriation policy, saying it was impractical and could
              aggravate economic hardship.

              He also said the government lacks information about the labour

              A local fisheries association in Chumphon said yesterday it
              would lodge a petition with authorities concerned, stressing the
              need to employ alien workers in the sector.

              There are about 5,000 foreign workers in fisheries in the
              province and 95 per cent of them are Burmese and they do not
              have work permits, said the association. 


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Last Modified: Fri, May 1, 1998