Myanmar: Support for migrant workers at five key embassies

Posted: 
03/18/14

Myanmar  - IOM is working with Myanmar’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security to train 30 frontline labour officials on labour migration management and migrant workers’ protection. The officials will be posted at diplomatic missions within the Mekong subregion, the Middle East, and in East Asia.

The country has increased the number of frontline labour officials posted abroad to five.  Embassies in Kuwait and Singapore now have new fulltime labour officials. Similar officials have already been posted to Thailand, Malaysia and the Republic of Korea.

These officials will respond to requests for assistance and to complaints from Myanmar workers, inspect workplaces and negotiate with employers, liaise with destination country authorities on key migrant worker issues, and assist vulnerable workers to return home safely.

Opening the training in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, His Excellency U Aye Myint, Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security stated: “Myanmar migrant workers are facing discrimination, low salaries, exploitation and human trafficking in several destination countries. There is often no one to help them. For this reason, Myanmar Government is deploying a new batch of labour officials to assist Myanmar migrant workers to access their rights and benefits, ensure their protection, and to solve problems between employers and employees.”

Kieran Gorman Best, IOM Chief of Mission, informed the trainees that Myanmar has an estimated 2.6 million migrant workers in Thailand alone. These workers currently remit an estimated USD 1.7 billion annually, according to recent research undertaken by IOM Thailand.

“Frontline labour officials at missions abroad are instrumental in assisting in the improvement of the welfare of these migrant workers,” he said at this week’s training.  Noting that a key lesson learned in other countries has been the need for strong linkages between missions abroad, diaspora and migrant communities.”

A critical theme of the training is assistance to Myanmar nationals that may have been trafficked abroad. IOM trainers and Ministry staff will review international procedures for assistance to vulnerable migrants, and develop national-specific standard operating procedures for screening and assistance to trafficked persons referred to its diplomatic missions.

Additionally, frontline labour officials will be trained to screen migrants suspected of having been trafficked, and to cooperate with IOM country missions to assist in their safe return. IOM and the Government of Myanmar have been cooperating on the return of Myanmar victims of trafficking since 2007, with over 600 victims returned from Thailand and over 100 trafficked fishermen returned from Indonesia, Thailand and Timor Leste.

The two-day training forms part of a larger programme of IOM’s technical cooperation with Myanmar on the management of international labour migration, financed by the IOM Development Fund and the United States Department of State.

For further information, please contact

Maciej Pieczkowski
Programme Manager
IOM Myanmar
Email: mpieczkowski@iom.int