Some 40 Shan migrant workers in northern Thailand’s Chiang Mai province say they have been cheated by the Thai Isara Construction Company when applying through the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) passport process, according to a representative from the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF).
Shan migrant workers submit a petition to Chiang Mai’s Labour Protection and Welfare Department on January 16.
HRDF’s Mwe Oo Nanta, who is also assistant advisor to the Migrant Workers Federation (MWF), said that her migrant rights organization is assisting the Shan workers on this case after receiving their complaint on January 10. She said that the migrants had collectively paid the Thai Isara Construction Company last month to administer their MoUs, but have been given the runaround and received no documentation.
“The migrant workers said that they were deceived by the company about their MoU process,” she told Shan Herald. “For an MoU passport, the migrants were asked to pay 16,000 baht per person for the entire process. On December 5, each migrant paid them between 6,000 and 7,500 baht, and the following day they were taken to a passport processing office in Kengtung Township, eastern Shan State.”
Mwe Oo Nanta said that the migrants claim they paid the remainder of the fees to the company on January 1. They say that the Thai Isara staff transported all the migrants to the city of Pa-an in Karen State to sign the MoU, after which time they returned to Chiang Mai to wait for the next step in the process. However, on January 7, they were told by a colleague that some migrants who went through the same process with this company in Yangon had been cheated out of their money. They were apparently left in Yangon to fend by themselves.
“Some migrants had to stay at a Buddhist temple because they had no money left,” Mwe Oo Nanta said. “Some of those who still had some money left came back to Thailand; others were compelled to go back to Shan State to seek help from their families.”
After the 40 migrants realized they had been deceived, they tried to contact the Thai Isara agency but found that its office was closed.
“The migrants didn’t know what else to do, so they came to us,” Mwe Oo Nanta said. “However, only 18 of them were present to register their complaint. We took them to Chiang Mai’s Labour Protection and Welfare Department on January 16 and requested help from the government.”
The Burmese migrant rights defender said that a representative of the Labour Protection and Welfare Department named Mr. Chakri Hunpho had promised the migrants that the department would try to help, and that it would investigate the agency in question.
On January 27, 2016, Shan Herald reported that 121 migrant workers were laid off by the Perfetto Ltd Partnership Company. Those workers submitted a petition to both the Chiang Mai governor and the Chiang Mai-based Consulate-General of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, claiming compensation of some 3.5 million baht (US$97,700) in back pay.
However, there has been no progress to date on this case, said Mwe Oo Nanta.
By Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN)
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