Mae Sot Burma

Myanmar Mae Sot

For this reason the city was often called'Little Burma'. Captives of Mae Sot Just over a fortnight ago a young Myanmar boyfriend, we call him Myo, hid in some farms and dodged the Thai policemen while he was being trafficked from Mae Sot to Bangkok. Contrary to many other undocumented immigrants who are trafficked and sometimes detained in this way, Myo had requested a pass and work permits as part of the Thailand formalities.

It is a large reservoir of mostly undocumented immigrants from neighboring Myanmar. The shortage of documents for lawful residency and work, coupled with relaxed implementation of labor laws, has limited the ability of immigrants in Mae Sot to assert their claims. Consequently, working in the region remains terrible, and salaries are generally a quarter to half of the statutory wage.

The Thai and Myanmar authorities worked together in 2009 to implement "temporary passports" with formal work permit requirements for immigrants in Thailand. Holders of these papers should be guaranteed the right to free circulation and the right to look for work throughout the state. The Mae Sot trial only really took off at the end of 2011, when the number of privately-owned pass holders and independents agents rocketed.

In those days, many immigrants in Mae Sot took the chance to move out of the frontier area for higher-paid work in Bangkok and the neighbouring states. Concerned about an imminent labor bottleneck, the Tak Industry Association (Tak Chapter) called on the government of Tak Province to curb migrant emigration.

As a reaction to this, in June 2012 the Tak officers gave orders to the Mae Sot P.D. and prevented immigrants who had a passport but were not (or not yet) enrolled for work outside Mae Sot from passing free at the control points on the highway outside the city. In order to circumvent them, some immigrants were able to give bribes of 500 Bahts to the local authorities who run the control points.

In most cases, however, these limitations still hamper the effort of immigrants living in Mae Sot who are seeking higher-paid work in Bangkok or elsewhere in Thailand in a legal manner. At the beginning of the year, Myo departed his hometown in Karen State to join the myrions of Myanmar immigrants working in Thailand.

He was employed by his younger sibling ( "already working in Bangkok") for 300 bahts a working hour near her own workplace. That was in February 2013, during an extended deadline for the registering of migrants that the Thai authorities had allowed due to the large number of persons still to be applied for.

Thailand and Myanmar also lowered their fees and the formal costs for passports and work permits to less than 5,000 Bh. But many immigrants who tried to enter through this bureau were informed that they were missing certain papers or information and were urged to go to a personal identification number.

Like most of the immigrants in Mae Sot, Myo has applied through a privately owned firm. He' s been billed 11,000 bahts. Having waited over two month, the registration firm Myo announced that the Mae Sot government would not allow the issuance of work permit within Mae Sot that has been recorded with employer elsewhere in Thailand.

Myo was reassured by the firm that they had organized a secure trip for him and the other candidates to pick up their papers in Bangkok. Since they would be traveling inundocumented, however, they all had to cover an extra 500 Bahts "police fee" and transportation costs. Finally, if Myo had submitted through the trial, why did he have to be trafficked to gather papers for legitimate residency and work in Thailand?

He and about 60 other immigrants were driven by the pass agency to a small outskirts hamlet outside Mae Sot, where they were taken to an empty home and said they should await, as it was not yet beneficial for the journey. They were taken along a side street, arrested by the local authorities and returned to the city.

While they waited in the same town as before, the immigrants were all of a sudden warned that the cops had been warned and they (the migrants) had to run away immediately and hid what they were doing in the surrounding countryside. They now say that they may no longer be able to apply for a work permit to work outside Mae Sot.

Whilst these limitations on the departure of immigrants from Mae Sot persist, there are several consequences that need to be taken into account. Firstly, the free flow of immigrants who want to move away from Mae Sot on a legal basis will still be refused in order to gain entry to higher-paid jobs elsewhere in Thailand.

For this reason, many of those who want to remain in Mae Sot have decided not to request a passport, but remain in an insecure position as undocumented immigrants, either because they cannot finance this documentary or because they see little use in the form of higher salaries. Thirdly, despite the official presence of legitimate alternative routes, the trafficking of people from Mae Sot to Bangkok is continuing.

Usual rates for Undocumented Immigrants to be trafficked from Mae Sot to Bangkok are 15,000 Bahts (or 8,000 Bahts if you are willing to go on foot for the first three days). The Mae Sot employer does not seem to be interested in paying the statutory minimal wages or in complying with Thai labor laws in general.

There are also job possibilities for immigrants in central Thailand who pay the statutory minimal or at least nearer to what is on offer in Mae Sot. As a result, immigrants will keep looking for ways out of Mae Sot, regardless of existing limitations.

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