The Straits Times
Published on Dec 14, 2012

Over one million migrant workers in Thailand face deportation


BANGKOK (REUTERS) - More than a million migrant workers in Thailand, most of them from Myanmar, face being deported after a deadline for getting work permits passes on Friday, a potential threat to industry and a situation activists say could lead to rights abuses.

"After today, those who work in Thailand illegally will have to travel back to their countries and they can only return through legal channels," said Dechar Peukpattanaruk, director of the Office of Foreign Workers Administration.

Thailand, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, is heavily dependent on migrant workers. People from Myanmar cross the porous border to fill a shortage of workers and - even after their country's recent opening-up - to escape unemployment.

Thai employers' groups had called for the deadline to be pushed back, fearing a shortage of manual workers in an already tight labour market.