Gov’t to Meet Recruitment Firms Over Migrants

Labor Ministry officials are set to meet today with about 40 local recruitment agencies to talk about formalizing the procedure for sending migrant workers to Thailand, an agency director said.

The meeting will focus on how the agencies can help migrants obtain work permits and other necessary documents to work in Thailand legally, according to An Bunhak, director of Top Manpower.

“We’re going to talk about the procedure [of sending workers to Thailand] and also about the fee,” Mr. Bunhak said Monday.

Pech Sophoan, secretary of state at the Labor Ministry, confirmed that the meeting with recruitment agencies would occur, but declined to comment further.

Cambodian migrant laborers in Thailand have poured home across the border since early June, fleeing a feared crackdown on illegal workers by the Thai Army, which seized power in a coup late last month. More than 230,000 workers had arrived back from Thailand as of Monday, according to Pich Vanna, chief of the Thailand-Cambodia Border Relations Office.

Last week the government deployed an intricate relief operation on the border to provide food, medical care and transport to the returned workers. Now that they have largely been sent back to their home provinces, the focus has shifted to helping return to work in Thailand as fast as possible.

The majority of Cambodian migrant laborers in Thailand work there illegally to avoid paying high fees for work and identity documents.

Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen cut the fee for migrants to obtain a passport from $124 to $4, and the Cambodian government has said it will work with Thai authorities to expedite the issuance of required work permits and licenses.

Cambodia’s recruitment agencies, many of which have close ties to senior police and labor officials, have been criticized by rights groups for a litany of abuses against the workers they recruit, including illegally confining them and sending them into abusive situations abroad.

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