Lao authorities expect to begin a new round of verifying nationality and legalising the status of thousands of Lao workers in Thailand in the coming months, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare said last week.
Dr Khampheng Saysompheng told local media during his attendance to the meeting between the cabinet, Vientiane Mayor and provincial governors that discussions with Thailand are needed to set a precise date to begin the work.
Currently, more than 100,000 Lao workers and family members are still residing in Thailand without proper documents, the minister said citing information provided by Thai authorities.
Lao and Thai authorities completed the joint mission earlier this year to legalise illegal Lao workers and more than 70,000 have been granted work permits.
Originally, the two authorities planned to complete legalising all the Lao workers during the last joint mission, but the number of Lao workers still without work permits is huge, therefore they could not complete the task.
In addition, numerous Lao workers are scattered with smaller and family-based businesses making the legal processing difficult unlike Cambodian and Myanmar workers who are working together in big factories, the minister explained.
Some Lao workers are working as housekeepers or work on farms, he said.
Dr Khampheng said the Lao government agreed on the need for local authorities to continue working with Thailand to legalise the remaining workers.
To address the issue of illegal workers in the longer term, the government told the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to improve labour recruitment mechanisms to ensure that all workers travelling to work in foreign countries are recruited through labour recruitment agencies so that they are granted legal documents prior their departure.
The minister admitted that recruitment through the labour recruitment agencies was considerably more costly and time-consuming which deterred workers from using the services, who instead decided to go abroad through illegal channels.
Despite the fact that Laos still needs many workers to fulfil jobs in local workplaces, Thailand has been a popular destination for Lao workers lured by higher wages. Similarity in culture and language has also motivated Lao job seekers to go there.
Officials have warned those wanting to go abroad seeking employment to do so through labour recruitment agencies and obtain legal documents so they are fully protected by laws, as those going through illegal channels are vulnerable to fall victim of human trafficking.
Source: Vientiane Times