Safe, systematic, and legal migration key to ensuring labour rights

  • Myanmar has sent workers to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, and some countries in the Middle East through legal employment agencies.
    Following negotiations with Thailand, Myanmar has issued Certificate of Identity (C of I) cards to 1.2 million migrant workers there. Thanks to the bilateral effort, illegal workers have been legalized, getting the opportunity to work legally.
    Taking this as an example, two diplomats at the Myanmar embassy in Malaysia have been assigned to assist Myanmar migrant workers in Malaysia to get full labour rights and protection.
    Myanmar has sent its citizens to foreign countries legally in accordance with its 1999 Overseas Employment Law. For safe, systematic, and legal migration, Myanmar has declared that it will take action against brokers, agencies from the two countries that are conducting their work inappropriately, and employers who violate the rights of workers.
    Myanmar signed the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers during the 31st ASEAN Summit in Philippines in November 2017. The declaration was signed with the aim of setting up a framework for migrant workers under close cooperation with ASEAN countries. This reflects Myanmar’s firm commitment towards social protection of migrant workers in the region, obtaining justice, health protection, and humane and fair treatment of migrant workers.
    The countries that signed the declaration are obliged to give protection to Myanmar’s migrant workers and to help them get jobs in accordance with the laws of the host countries.
    Myanmar’s migrant workers must note that C of I can be issued only when a migrant worker is identified as a Myanmar citizen. Workers have been advised to contact the Myanmar embassy and diplomats (labour affairs) in Malaysia to apply for C of I. The Myanmar embassy in Malaysia is working with civil societies there to help them.
    But, it has been found that illegal migrants often register themselves at the UNHCR office in Malaysia and find work using the cards issued by the UNHCR.
    After some workers were arrested recently and had served their terms, Myanmar diplomats went to the detention centres and scrutinized whether they were Myanmar citizens and made arrangements to send them back to Myanmar.
    At present, over 200,000 legal Myanmar migrants are working in manufacturing, agriculture, food stuff production, and electronics production in Malaysia. There are also illegal migrants working in the country.
    To give protection to Myanmar migrant workers so they are not exploited and enjoy labour rights, civil societies connected with our workers in overseas countries must inform diplomats (labour affairs) and cooperate with them in a timely manner when our workers face problems there.
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