International labour migration is defined as the movement of people from one country to another for the purpose of employment. Today, an estimated 4 to 5 million migrants are working in Thailand. Despite the efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant workers, many remain vulnerable and assume significant risk during the migration process. Many migrants and their families, especially those who migrate irregularly, are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation due to their precarious legal status. In collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, UN agencies and civil society organizations, IOM is working to enhance the lives of labour migrants in Thailand by:
(a) Promoting high-level national dialogue to facilitate the development of migration policies for the benefit of the country, migrants and society at large;
(b) Implementing programmes that improve migrants’ access to basic social services and assistance while fostering cooperation and common understanding of migrant issues among all stakeholders involved in migration management in Thailand;
(c) Providing men and women migrants from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam with labour market, demand-oriented professional and life-skills to enhance their access to improved employment opportunities and conditions, both in Thailand and upon return to countries of origin.
Information sharing and raising awareness of the latest government policies affecting migrants, and valuable economic contribution that labour migrants make to Thailand, is also an important dimension of IOM’s work. To this end, Migrant Information Notes, endorsed by Thailand’s Ministry of Labour, are produced bi-monthly, providing current, reliable information on the latest migration policy developments, regulations and procedures in Thailand. They are published in English, Thai and Myanmar, and are available for download here.
IOM is also active in engaging the private sector in promoting fair labour and ethical recruitment. Global supply chains are complex and involve a wide range of actors, working at multiple sites, with goods and workers crossing multiple borders. Migrant workers in these supply chains are highly vulnerable to poor working conditions, abuse and exploitation, and sometimes human trafficking for forced labour. IOM is actively engaged in addressing these vulnerabilities and has developed comprehensive expertise to assist private sector actors in enhancing procurement policies and reinforce the "employer pays" business model.
In Thailand, IOM has partnered with corporations and associations such as Grant Thornton and the Foreign Trade Association’s Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) in improving recruitment practices and helping local and international companies ensure that internationally recognized standards on migrant labour are met. Such collaboration help reassure consumers that products purchased come from companies with ethical migrant labour and supply chains.