More than 80 per cent of migrant workers in Thailand are from Burma. It was presented to me that in spite of the 2003 MOU and the 2009 nationality verification process to change irregular workers status to legal status through issuing of Burmese passports, migrant workers are still facing frequent and significant rights violations because neither Burma nor Thailand has adopted a rights-based approach to managing migration, as exemplified in numerous ILO conventions, and most importantly, in the comprehensive 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families. Both countries continue to have no clear migration policy, and migration management body, and neither country has taken a lead in ensuring the finalization of the stalled ASEAN framework on migrant workers.
I understand that representatives of the State Enterprise, Workers’ Relations and Confederation will be making a detailed submission on the plight of migrant workers in Thailand to this Conference. I would merely like to point out here that concerns related to migrant workers should receive similar consideration to those related to labour issues in our own country.
So many of the migrant workers I met in Thailand told me, “we want to go home”. All of us have a responsibility to make that home one to which they can come back in peace and in security.
I appeal to the ILO to join in efforts to build a home that is a true sanctuary for all our peoples. Here I would like to acknowledge with appreciation the members of the Thai administration who are participating in the resolution of migrant workers issues with understanding and resolution. Host countries also deserve consideration and assistance that labour and international relations might be improved the world over.
I welcome the resolution of the 101st Session, in particular sections 7 to 12 that will enable the ILO to work more effectively to resolve all labour issues outstanding in our country and in countries where there are migrant workers from Burma.