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, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More