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Myanmar migrants rush to apply for Thai work permits.

MAE SOT, Thailand, Aug. 24 Kyodo

More than 10,000 unskilled workers from Myanmar rushed to Mae Sot on Thailand's border with Myanmar on Thursday after the country decided to extend work permits for unskilled workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Thousands queued to obtain a border pass from the authorities at Myanmar's Myawaddy and Thailand's Mae Sot checkpoints after the decision Wednesday by the Thai labor ministry to extend permits to nearly 107,000 unskilled foreign workers.

Maung Soe, 30, was among the thousands from Myanmar applying to work in factories in the border district even though he was deported from Thailand only few days ago.

''I was sent back from Mae Sot, but I have never gone far from this area because I hoped Thailand would hire me again,'' he said.

There are about 80,000 illegal workers in Mae Sot, but only 2,125 unskilled workers are officially allowed to have jobs in the farming and construction sectors, according to an official at the district administration office.

Most of the illegal workers are employed in factories, notably in the textile and garment industries.

The official said the central government should allow local administrations in areas such as Mae Sot to grant work permits and tax foreign labor to raise funds to handle problems resulting from an influx of migrants.

More than 1 million migrants, mostly Myanmar nationals fleeing political and economic repression at home, are believed seeking work in Thailand.

They are welcomed by labor-intensive businesses, but Thailand continues to deport those who fail to obtain proper work permits.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Aug 28, 2000
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