Migrant children as young as 11 found working in factories in Thai province

Migrant children as young as 11 found working in factories in Thai province

At least three textile and electronics factories in the western province of Tak were found to be using immigrant child labourers aged under 15, according to Labour Ministry official Peerapat Pornsirilertkit.

The Labour Protection Act of 1998 prohibits the hiring of minors under 15, and offenders face up to a year in jail and/or a Bt200,000 (S$8300) fine.

Peerapat told a Bangkok seminar that the first national plan to combat the worst form of child labour would be concluded soon. The results would be analysed to formulate a policy and a second national plan for fiscal years 2015-2020.

So far, the department had assigned two special task-force teams - comprising soldiers and officials - to solve child-labour issues, he said.

They found that at least three Tak factories had hired children from Myanmar aged 11-14. Two textile factories had hired two underage kids and an electronic-parts factory three kids, he said. Officials were also watching two other suspect factories.

Peerapat leads the ministry's Department of Labour, Protection and Welfare. He said the department was considering asking for Bt10 million from the government to conduct a survey of the number of child labourers and create a database for clearer information to explain to officials in the United States.

In related news, Noppadon Kannika, an adviser to the labour minister, affirmed that the ministry would ensure that illegal foreign labourers were protected from human trafficking and paid compensation by their employers in accordance with the Bt300 minimum wage before they were repatriated.

A Labour Ministry-led integrated task force to prevent problems of illegal foreign labourers and human trafficking within the Bangkok area recently found 67 illegal Cambodian workers at a construction site near Bang Pho Police Station, Noppadon said.

"Of these workers, 52 had only personal-document copies and no work permits, while 11 had no work permits or personal documents, and four others were found to be working in a wrong field," he said.

"By law, employers must return original personal documents to all foreign workers, and provide compensation in accordance with the Bt300 minimum wage. From this batch, 15 Cambodian workers will be sent to their home country.

"The ministry will ensure their safe passage home along with their wages, under the direction of the 'Protect, Pay, and Bring Them Home' policy, whereby foreign workers of all nationalities are treated equally," he said.

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