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THE NATION: ighter sacks to lure ba (r)


      Lighter sacks to lure back
      Thai workers

      THE rice milling industry is pondering
      halving the conventional packaging for rice
      as part of government-led efforts to lure
      more Thais to retake jobs they have
      spurned to be taken over by illegal
      immigrants, Deputy Labour Minister
      Jongchai Thiangtham said Monday. 

      Conventionally, rice has been held in gunny
      sacks weighing 100 kg apiece. 

      According to industry information, Jongchai
      said, there are now an estimated 80,000
      labourers working at rice mills nationwide,
      including 20,000 who are illegal

      The proposed shift in rice packaging from
      the traditional 100-kg sacks to 50-kg ones
      is in line with the International Labour
      Organisation-recommended standards,
      which call for 50 kg, 30 kg and 10 kg of
      weight to be carried by male, female and
      child labourers, respectively, he said. 

      The proposed halving of the rice package,
      Jongchai said, ''would definitely be a pull for
      more Thais to work as rice mill labourers.'' 

      He said the rice mill industry, which has
      been won over to the idea, will bring the
      matter to consult with the rice sacking
      industry, and the Association of Rice

      Rice mills asked the government to allow it
      to continue hiring some 20,000 illegal
      labourers in the industry after the authorities
      made it known that they would begin
      implementing in the middle of this year the
      government policy of deporting illegal
      immigrant workers in order to make room
      for jobless Thais. The number of the
      unemployed is estimated to rise to three
      million this year. 

      Thai employers generally prefer illegal
      immigrant labourers to locals because they
      are ready to accept lower wages and
      willing to do jobs spurned by Thais. 

      Jongchai said, however, that he did not
      expect the halving of rice packaging to
      eliminate the problem of rice millers
      preferring illegal immigrants to locals. 


      The Nation