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Social security plan best for migrant workers—Thai academics

/ 02:52 PM November 12, 2017

Academics have urged Thai authorities to reform the migrant worker registration system and register all workers in a social security scheme to address the roots of chronic problems.

The Labour Rights Promotion Network (LPN) yesterday arranged a seminar at Chulalongkorn University involving migrant labour representatives, NGOs and the business sector to solve problems related to the management of migrants in Thailand. A key conclusion of the seminar was that the government should establish an integrated and up-to-date migrant worker database to address chronic problems.

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LPN deputy committee chairman Surapong Kongchantuk said problems resulted because authorities had not registered migrant workers in a central database, leaving people with an ambiguous status that led to human trafficking and corruption.

“The effort by the Labour Ministry to buy retina scanning machines is not a solution for migrant worker identification. Instead of letting the Labour Ministry establish a migrant worker database, we should let the Registration Administration Bureau do this task by using fingerprint identification,” Surapong said.

He added that the Registration Administration Bureau could conduct worker registration in a centralised database, which every official agency could access.

That would make it much easier for authorities to check and monitor all workers in the country and prevent identity theft, he said.Fingerprint technology was already good enough for biometric identification, he said, while retina scans were both unnecessary and entailed extravagant expenses involved in purchasing the equipment.

“The government should open a new easy and convenient registration system for migrant workers and collect their information in a central database. This is a practical way to manage migrant workers and boost national stability,” Surapong said.

Supang Chantavanich, a professor of sociology with the Asian Research Centre for Migration at Chulalongkorn University, said authorities had three separate databases recording workers’ details at the Immigration Bureau, Labour Ministry and Interior Ministry. 

However, the databases were incapable of communicating with each other, she said, arguing that they should be integrated with data stored using blockchain technology, which involves a networked decentralised digital ledger that can be accessed from multiple terminals. That way, information could be updated and shared between agencies, she added.

“The government can use this integrated database to issue an identification document for people who reside in Thailand for migrant work, which places them under the monitoring of the Thai government and makes the management of migrant workers more efficient,” she said.

Former Democrat Party MP Atthawit Suwanpakdee said the government effort to solve migrant worker problems by enforcing memorandums of understanding governing work permits was not an efficient solution.

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He suggested that migrant workers should register in the social security scheme to ensure their welfare, while authorities could use the social security numbers for identification and monitoring.

“We opened the registration to migrant workers several times, but every time the information was not properly updated. Using the social security system to verify and collect their identities would be a much better way, as the information of each worker would be regularly updated,” Atthawit said.

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TAGS: Asia, Global Nation, Labor, migrant workers, Thailand
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