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Legally or Not, Cambodian Workers Returning to Thailand

500 legal workers OK'd to enter Chanthaburi Tuesday even as 12 others arrested in Sa Kaeo.

Cambodians Arrested after Sneaking in for Jobs
Police question Cambodian men caught sneaking into Thailand in Sa Kaeo on Friday.

The first group of Cambodian workers allowed to re-enter Thailand legally for work was approved Friday even as another group of Khmer illegal job seekers was captured in Sa Kaeo.

After five months of border closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Labor Ministry and Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration gave the OK for the import of foreign workers through a permanent border checkpoint in Pong Nam Ron District of Chanthaburi Province on Tuesday.

Rattawit Tangkiatpachara, the President of Thai-Cambodia Border Trade & Tourism Association of Chanthaburi said the Cambodians will work at warehouses for fruit export to facilitate inspection and quarantine.

Health screenings and quarantine will cost empoyers around 6,000 baht per person, but companies can warehouse their new workers at their warehouses for just 2,700 baht.

There will be no health screenings or quarantines for a dozen Cambodian men seeking jobs in Thailand after they were caught Friday sneaking into the Rong Kluea Market in Aranyaprathet District of Sa Kaeo.

The illegal migrants craweled under a border fence behind the market after crossing the Klong Luek Canal that forms the borderline between Aranyaprathet and Poipet town of Cambodia.

The Cambodians were brought to a local paramilitary ranger checkpoint. They had neither travel documents nor drugs, and had no fevers.

The aliens said that as Thailand continued to seal the border there, they had to sneak in to find jobs at the market because they had none in Poipet and had to care for their families.

Thousands of Cambodians were waiting for Thailand to allow them to work at the market. Officials recorded their profiles before deporting them.

Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin actually was at the Aranyaprathet border in Sa Kaeo Friday inspecting the health-screening process and discussing guidelines for hiring migrant workers with local employers.

Suchart said he gathered input directly from business owners affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The agricultural sector, in particular, is experiencing labor shortages, he said.

In order to employ migrant workers at this time, relevant agencies have to find ways to look after them and prepare quarantine facilities in compliance with the Ministry of Public Health’s standards, Suchart said.

At the moment, the ministry is using Chanthaburi as a model in the hiring of Cambodian workers to harvest longan.

The National News Bureau of Thailand contributed to this report.