Migrant workers have their work permits renewed at IT Square in Laksi district, one of four centers for permit renewals in Bangkok. Photo: AFP/Bangkok Post
Migrant workers have their work permits renewed in Bangkok. Photo: AFP / Bangkok Post

The Thai government has come under pressure to change a number of labor laws governing foreign workers to comply with standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) had asked the Thai government to alter seven labor laws to conform with ILO standards. If Thailand fails to amend the seven labor laws, it may effect the renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) from the US.

Boonyarit Kalayanamit, the director-general of Thailand’s Commerce Ministry’s Internal Trade Department, said the USTR had called for changes to seven laws on freedom of association, labor unions and negotiations. Thailand had altered five of the seven laws in a bid to conform with ILO standards.

The other two laws relating to foreign workers concern forming a union, which the Labor Ministry had put out for consideration, and allowing foreign workers to have freedom of speech, which might be impossible due to conflicts with the criminal law of Thailand.

However, the Labor Ministry said it would consult other departments and both the public and private sector as the changes relate to other laws already in place. 

Foreign workers registered under the MOU system are given benefits like medical care and social insurance, depending on their employers. Some foreign workers get more benefits such as free accommodation and education from their employers.

The minimum wages for foreign workers in Thailand starts at 300 to 330 baht per day, depending on which province they work in. For Bangkok, it is 325 baht per day.

There were estimated to be 3.8 million regular and irregular migrant workers in Thailand in 2018, according to the Ministry of Labour and the ILO. Workers from Myanmar make up the largest number, followed by Cambodia and Laos.