On this occasion, the Northern Labour Network, comprised of 15 Civil Society Organizations which promote migrants’ rights, along with migrant workers representatives, held our annual seminar on 17 December 2017, at UNISERVE Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Participants discussed the current situation of migrant workers in Northern Thailand reflecting on recent changes in policy and the realities on the ground. We identified rights violations and the inability to access certain rights which are protected under the law, for example, not receiving minimum wage with women receiving less than men, long working hours, no paid days off or holidays, no paid overtime, and working weekends. Additionally, migrant workers continued to be unable to access proper safety equipment at the workplace, which leaves them exposed to harmful chemicals. Many reported they are unable to benefit from Social Security due to their employers not enrolling them. Migrants also still having problems with Immigration including completing their 90-day notification, registering, or extending visas, because documents are difficult to process and it takes a long time.     

Over 100 participants who attended the meeting broke out into discussion groups and proposed the following recommendations to The Royal Government of Thailand, and the Government of The Union of the Republic of Myanmar:

Recommendations to the Royal Thai Government:


  1. Ensure that migrant workers receive at least the minimum wage as required by law without discrimination on grounds of gender or job.
  2. Enact consistent migrant policies with clear procedures that do not change frequently with concise steps that can be implemented quickly for the following:
  • Migrant registration and work permit application
  • Visa and 90 day report to Immigration in all locations
  1. Adopt a policy that allows migrant to work and register until the age of 60, just like Thais, and those who are over age 55 but are unable to work and have nowhere to return to in their home country be registered as dependents. 
  2. Amend the migrant health insurance policy for dependents who are between the ages of 7-18 to make the cost of a health insurance card for this age group the same as for dependents (365 Baht) who are young children.
  3. Allow migrants to terminate work contracts within the stipulated period allowed by the Labour Protection Law and allow them thirty days to find a new employer.
  4. Urgently issue a ministerial regulation that allows all workers in all occupations to enter the Social Security system and receive equal benefits without discrimination with monitoring and follow-up to ensure that employers are enrolling their migrant employees according to law.
  5. Allow migrants holding passports of all types which have not yet expired get visas to enable them to work.
  6. Refrain at all levels from implementing policies of “zoning” migrants as these policies will segregate migrants which is a human rights violation.
  7. Revise the Working Of Alien Act B.E. 2551 to allow migrant workers to work in all occupations according to their abilities.
  8. Disseminate more information on migrant workers’ rights and related policies in migrants’ languages and in language they can understand.
  9. Ensure that every government agency providing services to migrant workers does so in a fast and friendly manner.
  10. Ratify ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and No. 98 on the Right to Collective Bargaining, as well as the ILO Convention No. 189 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
  11. Recognize sex workers, domestic workers, workers in the informal sector and those in agriculture who do not have work all year round, as occupations covered under the full protections of the Labour Law.
  12. Ensure that the embassy and consulate of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to Thailand have sufficient personnel to provide assistance to migrant workers in accessing proper identification documents.
  13. Allow migrant workers from Myanmar to apply for or renew identification cards at the Embassy or consulates here in Thailand.

To the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar:

Please enact these recommendations urgently


The Northern Labour Network

MAP Foundation

Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)


Shan Women Action Network (SWAN)

Shan Youth Power

Migrant Workers Federation

Workers Solidarity Association

Mekong Migration Network