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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs