Today's Top Stories - Tuesday December 18, 2007
Migrants contributed 6.2% to the GDP
Thailand's estimated 1.8 million migrant workers earned $2 billion in wages last year but may have contributed $11 billion, or 6.2 per cent, to the gross domestic product, the International Labour Organization (ILO) revealed.
According to the ILO report - Thailand Economic Contribution of Migrant Workers - the kingdom is getting a better deal off its migrant workers than it is giving them.
"If migrants are as productive as Thai workers in each sector, their total contribution to output should be in the order of 11 billion dollars or about 6.2 per cent of Thailand's GDP," said Manola Abella, the ILO's chief technical advisor in Thailand, summing up the report's findings.
The total number of migrants in Thailand rose from about 700,000 in 1995 to 1.8 million in 2006, according to the report.
Last year about 75 per cent of the migrant labourers came from neighbouring Burma, who now represent 5 per cent of Thailand's total labour force of 36 million.
The remainder came from Laos and Cambodia, Thailand's neighbours to the north and east.
Thailand has been registering migrant workers since 1992, but many stay unregistered to avoid the relatively expensive and time-consuming process.
In 1995, some 45 per cent of the estimated 700,000 migrants were registered, while only 26 per cent of the 1.8 million were registered last year.
Migrant labourers are limited to certain sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, construction and as domestics. Nearly half of Thailand's domestics are now believed to migrants, said the ILO report.
It found that migrants, on average, earn about half the minimum wage and are not eligible for state services such as medical care and education for their children.
"What worries the ILO is that migrants are not receiving equal treatment," said Abella.
The ILO called on the Thai government to abide by fundamental principles is dealing with their migrant labour and to make procedures flexible.
"If the government were to acknowledge that the Thai economy is likely to continue to employ migrants over the medium term, create mechanisms to involve social partners in development of a transparent migrant policy, and promote cooperation with migrant countries of origin, Thailand could reap the benefits of migration while protecting the rights of migrants in Thailand," concluded the report. dpa