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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           22   July  2011

Thais don’t take to migrant labor

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Thais have limited support for the rights of migrant workers, according to a multi-country study by the UN's International Labour Organisation's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, even though there are millions of Burmese, Cambodian and Lao workers ion the country.

Of 1,000 Thai people surveyed, 84 percent said unauthorised migrants had broken the law and cannot expect to have any rights at work.

Sixty percent said even legal migrant workers cannot expect the same working conditions as Thai nationals when carrying out the same job.

The report reveals higher levels of support for migrant workers, in terms of their rights and their contribution, in Singapore and South Korea than in Malaysia and Thailand.

It found that a key factor in influencing public attitudes was personal experience of migrant workers.

"Effective policies to govern labour migration can help lead the way to better relations between migrant workers and host populations," said Sachiko Yamamoto, of the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. "Greater awareness of migrant workers' rights and the contribution they make to host countries needs to be encouraged."

In Thailand the findings of the ILO study are being used to shape the Saphan Siang ("Bridge of Voices") campaign, which aims to promote better understanding between the public and migrant workers. The campaign encourages Thais and migrant workers to share views and experiences, initially online at

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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