Thai Businesses Ask Government to Speed Up Return of Migrant Workers

Migrant workers return to Laos from Thailand
Migrant workers return to Laos from Thailand at the Friendship Bridge in Mukdahan.


Businesses in Thailand have called on their government to reopen the country for migrant workers with demand for labor soaring after the country’s reopening.

The private sector has asked the government to draw up agreements with neighboring countries that would speed up the return of migrant workers.

Bangkok Post reports that Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Employers’ Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry, said the government should allow vaccinated workers from Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia to enter Thailand under special agreements as soon as possible, rather than waiting until December.

“Demand for foreign labor is soaring right now after the country’s reopening on 1 November,” he was quoted as saying. “The growth of exports and imports also resulted in a drastic shortage of unskilled workers.”

Thailand’s Employer’s Confederation has proposed employers manage the provision of Covid-19 vaccines for employees and subsidize the cost of 14-day quarantines before laborers begin work.

A study by the Thai Department of Employment conducted in May found that Thai business operators needed 256,029 workers from Myanmar, 130,138 Cambodian workers, and 38,536 Lao nationals in their workplaces.

Migrant workers play an important role in the Thai economy, with a growing number of Thais being reluctant to work in certain industries.

The agriculture, livestock, construction, hospitality, and garment sectors are the largest employers of migrant labor in Thailand.

Unemployment Rises in Laos

Meanwhile, the return home of migrant workers has seen unemployment in Laos rise to unprecedented levels.

The Lao Ministry of Labor recently reported that nearly 500,000 people remain unemployed across the nation this year, including those already in the country and migrant workers who have returned to Laos due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ministry estimates that some 224,118 Lao migrant workers were living in other countries throughout 2020 until September 2021.

Of this number, approximately 215,670 have subsequently returned to Laos, according to the ministry.

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