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Workers demand job security

Workers demanded greater job security, including a new unemployment
insurance law, a minimum wage review every six months, and a waiver on
income tax on compensation, as they celebrated May Day yesterday.

Thousands of union members were at Sanam Luang, where their leaders
demanded better employment protection.

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai told them he would not neglect them, but
called for cooperation to prevent further bankruptcies.

As he spoke the government began rounding up illegal immigrants for
deportation. Many employers have suspended employment of illegal immigrants
and arranged for transportation to send them home across the border.

Some Burmese immigrants were seen crossing the Moei River in Mae Sot into
Burma to avoid possible punishment by Thai Immigration.

A Burmese national became the first casualty of the campaign when a bus
taking him and other illegal immigrants overturned in Tak.

Thirty others, mostly illegally employed at factories in Krathum Baen,
Samut Sakhon, were injured.

Those who made it across the Moei River appeared reluctant to move deeper
inside Burma, fearing for their safety.

Immigration officials in Tak said 1,000 Burmese were deported yesterday,
bringing the total month-long repatriation head count to 30,000.

Deputy Prime Minister Bhichai Rattakul said that although the cabinet has
decided to ease the campaign by allowing illegal immigrants to work in 13
border provinces, it has yet to decide on the type of occupations to be
open to them.

Illegal immigrants will also be allowed to take up jobs on trawlers in 22
coastal provinces while awaiting repatriation, he said.

Operators of more than 1,000 trawlers in Chumphon have decided to keep
their fishing vessels away from the shore for fear of being arrested for
hiring foreign workers.

Many business people are still unclear about what exactly is government
policy on the issue.