More than 150 illegal Cambodian workers were sent back to Banteay Meanchey province over the weekend after they worked for several days in Thailand, according to provincial officials.
“Most of them were field workers who tried to seek work in Thailand,” said Ou Chrou district Deputy Police Chief Phath Savy, noting that the workers get paid about $1.30 a day.
More Cambodians usually get sent back to Poipet before holidays such as the upcoming Pchum Ben celebration because they are trying to make extra money. Phath Savy estimated that about 600 people sneak into Thailand from Poipet every month looking for work.
A provincial official suggested that a long drought in Cambodia’s northwest forced people to go to Thailand to work planting rice seedlings. A Cambodian salesman in Poipet claimed that border officials collected about $1.03 from the returning workers, but Phath Savy denied that charge.
A 1999 Cambodian Development Resource Institute working paper on labor migration to Thailand estimated there may be 82,000 workers illegally employed in Thailand at any given time.