Workers from Laos and Cambodia Pour Back into Thailand

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Migrant workers in Thailand queue up for Covid-19 testing at an apartment in Samut Sakhon (Photo: Bangkok Post)
Migrant workers in Thailand queue up for Covid-19 testing at an apartment in Samut Sakhon (Photo: Bangkok Post)

Hundreds of thousands of laborers from Laos and Cambodia have begun returning to Thailand as the country opens its doors to migrant workers.

Thailand requires around 800,000 migrant workers to urgently fill positions in the manufacturing, tourism, and service sectors, according to the Federation of Thai Industries.

Vientiane Times reports that according to Laos’ Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, more than 246,000 workers had returned from Laos to Thailand since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Large numbers of migrant workers were retrenched when Thailand went into lockdown with strict regulations shuttering restaurants, nightclubs, and other venues.

According to Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Mr. Phongsaisack Intharath, more than 50 percent of returning migrant workers have now been rehired in Thailand.

Workers from Laos can earn a higher salary in Thailand, where the minimum wage is approximately BHT 300 per day (LAK 105,000).

Illegal Entry Faster and Simpler for Unskilled Workers

However, many Lao workers have begun re-entering Thailand illegally because of costly new regulations in the wake of the pandemic.

Returning workers face slow and expensive visa and work permit procedures, as well as a requirement to take two Covid-19 tests.

They are also required to undertake seven to 14-day quarantine periods before crossing the border.

Many returning workers use brokers to help them cross the Mekong River into Thailand illegally, where they are transported directly to jobs.

Employers are also reportedly attempting to circumvent regulations exacting a fee of BHT 8500 for each migrant worker they register.