IOM, UNDP, Ministries of Labour and Justice Advance Fair and Ethical Recruitment and Employment in Thailand
Bangkok – On 15 June, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Justice of the Royal Thai Government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organized National Consultations on Promoting Fair and Ethical Recruitment and Employment of Migrant Workers in Thailand. Technical speakers from the International Labour Organization (ILO) also joined the event.
"Such consultations are key in formulating policies for fair and ethical recruitment and employment in Thailand," said Ms. Pataraporn Samantarath, Assistant Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour of Thailand.
Sixty-seven participants representing Thai business, recruitment agencies, civil society and workers' organizations called for simplifying of the recruitment processes governed by bilateral agreements referred to as Memoranda of Understanding signed between Thailand and its neighbouring countries, reducing recruitment fees charged to migrant workers and introducing clear definitions of recruitment fees into Thai law.
In response, the Royal Thai Government reassured that it would review all recommendations. It was also open to further discussing incentives for businesses adhering to fair and ethical recruitment practices in the form of awards or tax incentives.
As a regional migration hub within Southeast Asia, Thailand hosts approximately 3.9 million migrant workers. The majority of them work in lower-skilled occupations, in sectors that are core to Thailand's economy, such as construction, agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, and services.
"Despite the vital economic and social contribution of migrant workers, they face many challenges. These include unethical recruitment, including excessive recruitment fees which leads to debt bondage," said Ms. Geraldine Ansart, Chief of Mission at IOM Thailand.
In response to these challenges, in 2019, the Royal Thai Government enacted the Royal Ordinance Concerning the Management of Employment of Foreign Workers B.E. 2560, preventing recruiters from charging service fees to migrants.
The Royal Thai Government also included migrant workers as a population of concern in the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights and, as part of these efforts, committed to further promote fair and ethical recruitment and the 'Employer Pays Principle,' a recruitment model where migrants do not pay for any labour migration associated costs, among Thai businesses.
"Employers are showing their commitment to promote good labour practices. It means that workers have gone through the proper screening process and have been selected based on their skills and abilities," said Mr. Kornchai Kaewmahawong, Special Project Director of the Employers Confederation of Thailand (ECOT).
According to Mr. Kaewmahawong, recruiting migrant workers fairly could help Thai companies build a solid reputation among international business partners, especially now when consumers and brands were becoming more ethically conscious.
The participants agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic made fair and ethical recruitment of migrant workers even more important in the context of re-opening the borders to resume cross-border recruitment and increased risks of labour exploitation.
"Many MOU workers in countries of origin have been indebted for paying recruitment fees prior to the border closures in March 2020. However, they have been unable to enter Thailand to work ever since," said Mr. Adisorn Kerdmongkol, Manager of the Migrant Working Group (MWG), stressing how COVID-19-exacerbated migrant workers' vulnerabilities.
Mr. Kerdmongkol highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic made the recruitment process more complicated both in Thailand and in countries of origin. He added that due to quarantine requirements and costly COVID-19 testing that migrant workers may be required to undergo before coming to Thailand in the future, promoting fair and ethical recruitment is crucial.
The short, medium and long-term recommendations proposed by the participants during this event will be submitted to the Royal Thai Government to support them in developing evidence-based policies. This is consistent with the Government commitments under the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights as well as the Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, a first, intergovernmentally negotiated agreement to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner that the Government is part of.
The inputs from these consultations also informed the Regional Conference for Recruitment Agencies on Promoting Ethical Recruitment organized by IOM and the Ministry of Labour on 16 June 2021.
This event is part of IOM's Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) programme funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking in the Fashion Industry (CREST Fashion) project funded by the Laudes Foundation, Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement in Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand (PROMISE) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, as well as UNDP's Business and Human Rights in Asia project implemented in partnership with the European Union.
For more information, please contact us at CRESTThailand@iom.int
Note to Editor
IOM's Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST), funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is a regional partnership initiative that aims to realize the potential of business to uphold the human and labour rights of migrant workers in their operations and supply chains. IOM's Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking in the Fashion Industry (CREST Fashion), funded by the Laudes Foundation, partners with multi-national enterprises and local companies operating in South Asia and Southeast Asia's apparel and home textile supply chains to promote responsible business conduct in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). For more information, please contact us at CRESTThailand@iom.int
IOM's Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement in Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar and Thailand (PROMISE) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) aims to improve employment opportunities and conditions for women and men migrants in Thailand from Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic and Myanmar through enhanced skills and protection, leading to poverty reduction. For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Business and Human Rights in Asia: Enabling Sustainable Economic Development through the Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework, financed under the Partnership Instrument of the European Union, supports the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in close partnership with Asian governments, business, and civil society, through dialogue, training, research, small grant provision and awareness raising activities. In so doing, the joint EU-UNDP action aims to strengthen human rights conditions in business operations and supply chains, facilitating sustainable economic growth while promoting multilateralism. For more information, please contact us at email@example.com