News / Asia

Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborersi
X
August 04, 2014 9:44 AM
​​Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor, but now some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA's Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.

Seven-year-old Nan Kung from Battambang, Cambodia, need at least a rudimentary education.

In a makeshift classroom at a Bangkok construction site, she tells visitors she likes coloring, learning the alphabet and practicing washing her hands.

Adjacent to this open-air space, several hundred workers are building 319 luxury homes.

With Thailand's very low unemployment rate, builders and contractors are dependent on migrant laborers, some of whom insist on bringing along their spouses — some of whom are themselves put to work.

  • A girl goes on an errand at a construction site, Bangkok, July 10, 2014. (Rosyla Kalden/VOA)
  • Migrant laborers take a lunch break at a construction site, Bangkok, July 10, 2014. (Rosyla Kalden/VOA)
  • A construction worker from Myanmar, Ma Moe, with her son, Sun Linn Htet, Bangkok, July 10, 2014. (Rosyla Kalden/VOA)
  • A worker takes a break at a muddy construction site in Bangkok, July 10, 2014. (Rosyla Kalden/VOA)
  • Two children at a Bangkok construction site, Bangkok, July 10, 2014. (Rosyla Kalden/VOA)
  • A little girl showers at a construction site, Bangkok, July 10, 2014. (Rosyla Kalden/VOA)

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor, but now some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries.

“It's very common in construction sites whereby we can see lots of kids running around and not doing anything productive," said Srettha Thavisin, president Sansiri PCL. "Sometimes it's even worse. Sometimes [there is use of] child labor to build houses and things like that.”
 
Previously the Sansiri corporation, like many builders in the developing world, looked the other way regarding children at construction sites.

President Srettha Thavisin, said all of Sansiri’s contractors now sign a clause acknowledging they can be terminated if they are found to be employing anyone under the age of 15.
 
“We need to be able to educate our staff that in addition to making houses, making condos, delivering houses to the consumers, it's our duty as citizens of Thailand to contribute back to society," stated Thavisin. "And this is a particular cause in which we believe in.” 

As part of its social change initiative, Sansiri is also operating, in collaboration with the contractors and UNICEF, safe spaces for children at each project site.
 
“Having a place like this they can be more productive in their work and it's also a peace of mind while they're working. They know that the children are safe and away from harm,” Juat stated.

That is a relief for Nan’s mother.

“Before they had this center I used to bring my child to where we were doing the construction. But now I’m really happy my daughter can stay here. It’s safe,” said mother, Nee Kung.

Construction worker Ma Moe from Pyay District, Pego Division in Myanmar has a bachelor’s degree in history. Despite her education, she said the best way to provide for her son, Sun Linn Htet, is for her and her husband to build homes and offices in Thailand.

“At previous construction sites, making daily wages, we couldn’t send our son to school," she said. "He is a bright kid, he remembers everything he learns here. So that is why I am elated he can have this kind of educational experience here.”

But the boy’s education, informal as it is, is likely to be interrupted. When the family moves on to the next project site, it likely will not have similar safe spaces for children.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
August 01, 2014 7:00 PM
In most countries, even the USA, migrant laborers are at the wrong end of the stick. They have no platform to air their grievances. They are liable to be sent back to their home countries which treat them just as bad if not worse. International organizations and relief agencies already have too much on their plates.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid