Four Offices to Open For Thailand-Bound Workers

Four “one-stop” offices to process documentation for Cambodians seeking legal work in Thailand will open on Tuesday after the Ministry of Labor issued a directive last week outlining how the migration process will operate, according to the head of the Ministry of Interior’s passport department.

Mao Chandara, director of the passport department, said the four offices in provinces along the border with Thailand—Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin and Koh Kong—were set to open on Tuesday and were waiting for paperwork from the Ministry of Labor regarding which individuals are cleared to receive passports.

“We are awaiting documents from the Ministry of Labor,” Mr. Chandara said, adding that workers must have the proper documentation before being issued a passport at the four provincial offices.

About 250,000 Cambodian workers returned to the country last month fearing a crackdown on illegal labor by the Thai junta. In an effort to ease the re-migration process, the government slashed the price of passports for would-be migrant workers to Thailand last month from $124 to $4.

But hundreds of workers are still being caught by Thai authorities and sent back to Cambodia every day after trying to go back across the border illegally. Local officials and workers say the government’s efforts to provide a legal channel for workers has been too slow.

Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng issued a directive on Wednesday laying out the ministry’s plan for sending workers to Thailand legally.

The directive says that workers who want to receive a passport from the four new offices must have a letter giving them “migrant-worker status” from either a Cambodian recruitment agency, a Thai employer or the Ministry of Labor.

Before crossing into Thailand, workers must also have an “overseas Cambodian worker card,” signed by the general-director of labor at the Ministry of Labor in Phnom Penh.

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