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You are here: News Mizzima Up to 4 million Burmese working abroad

Up to 4 million Burmese working abroad

Nearly four million Burmese are now working in foreign countries, according to recent Parliament discussions.

Legal migrant workers are on strike in this file photo taken in a factory in Khon Kaen, Thailand, early this year. Photo: Mizzima

Around 10 to 12 percent of Burma’s 60 million population have left the country to find jobs, said Lower House Speaker Shwe Mann.

There are 137 licensed overseas employment service agencies and 14 local services in Burma, according to the Labor Department.

Earlier this month, Mizzima reported that around 150,000 Burmese refugees and migrants now living in Thailand would be given government aid to voluntarily return to Burma, according to officials of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Resettlement.

The ministry is now drawing up a plan in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Ministry of Immigration, according to domestic reports.

The plan would mostly affect Karen and Mon nationalities, who would receive aid for their cost of living and career opportunity training during their return, said officials.

“Initially, we will work on accepting those in Thailand who want to come back to Burma after being scrutinized,” Than Htut Swe, the director-general of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Resettlement, told local media.

A certificate of identity would be issued to any Burmese migrant worker in Thailand who wants to return home for good, said the report, excluding law breakers who would have to face the charges against them.

“We are trying to carry this out after it was submitted to the president’s office. The president has also highlighted the issues about refugees and migrant workers during his recent trip to Thailand,” Than Htut Swe said.

Recently, Burmese officals also discussed streamlining the migrant worker hiring process in cooperation with Thai authorities.

In July, Mizzima reported that Thailand plans a major overhaul in how Burmese migrant workers can enter and work in Thailand, according to the Minister of Labour.

Thai Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap said that Thailand wants to change the system with workers only being brought here via government-to-government contracts in the long run.

The minister cited agreements discussed during President Thein Sein’s visit to Bangkok in July.

The “government-to-government contracts” would last for two years and not exceed four years, he said.

In regard to a Dec. 14 deadline in Thailand to register as illegal migrants, he said it would be the final date.

He Thein Sein specifically asked for help from Thai authorities to make it easier for Burmese workers to send money home, as well as get skills and career training, plus better welfare and protection from abuse by employers.

In March, Burma's Parliament approved a Labor Organization Law, which covers protecting employees' rights, and setting up good relationship between employers and employees as well as forming labor associations systematically and freely.

The Labor Organization Law has been enacted in accord with the provisions of the International Labor Organization, said officials.