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Uncertainty and immobility affecting workers in Thailand

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Workers from Thailand waiting to go through the O’Smach international border crossing in Oddar Meanchey on Monday. Oddar Meanchey Provincial Administration

Uncertainty and immobility affecting workers in Thailand

The Cambodian embassy in Thailand has called on all Cambodian migrant workers who are residing and working there not to panic or move about the country unnecessarily as the Thai government has re-imposed Covid-19 restrictions on all construction sites in Bangkok and some provinces.

The call came after Cambodian migrant workers working in the construction sector in Thailand returned home via the O’Smach, O’Bei Choan and Boeng Trakuon checkpoints and through smaller unofficial corridors in Thailand’s Surin province.

Posting on Facebook, the Cambodian embassy said the Thai government has re-imposed Covid-19 restrictions on all construction sites for 30 days and banned construction workers from travelling cross-country.

These restrictions were imposed on Bangkok, Nakhon Phanom, Nonburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala and Songkhla provinces.

The embassy said that it would continue to cooperate with all relevant institutions in Thailand to monitor, intervene, solve and relieve Cambodian migrant workers’ difficulties during this crisis.

“The Cambodian embassy would like to thank all migrant workers for cooperating with the Thai government in measures to prevent [transmission] and protect the community from Covid-19 during the pandemic over the past year.

“The Thai government will provide medical care and treatment to all those afflicted by the virus. Migrant workers without documents will not be punished by the Thai authorities and the Thai government will even assist with the preparation of documents for those workers in order to legalise them,” the Cambodian embassy said.

Loeng Sophon, a Thailand-based project officer at the labour-rights group Central, told The Post on June 28 that because the Thai government had made this announcement many Cambodian construction workers had become worried and had returned home, while many other workers had already moved around within Thailand and changed their place of accommodation.

“The Thai government made this announcement, but Cambodian migrant workers with no documents in some areas were still arrested and fined by Thai troops. So our workers feel scared and question whether if they get infected with Covid-19 but don’t have any documents, will they actually get this promised treatment?,” he explained.

He said that many Cambodian migrant workers have in fact recently contracted Covid-19 in Thailand. This made workers worried and scared because in just one day recently more than 5,000 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed and many deaths were recorded.

A construction worker, Kieng Mao, working in Samut Prakan province with more than 300 other Cambodian construction workers, told The Post on June 29 that she and the other workers were not allowed to leave their construction site.

They were all worried about their health and they were not being kept informed about the situation very well, she said.

“Employers do not tell us very much – they just allow us to stay in this place. When the one month closure expires, we will then return to work.

“We have yet to be told what the situation is regarding our salaries or allowances and we still do not know how that is going to be handled,” she said.

She said that she didn’t know whether any Cambodian migrant workers in her province had contracted Covid-19, but she had heard that in other provinces nearby some Cambodians had definitely been infected.

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