November 19, 2012 6:12 am

“We have to work 13 hours to earn 130 Baht per day or $4.00. Without overtime my wage would be 75 Baht or $2.50 a day.  Our wages increase 5 Baht or $0.7 every six months,” said Ms. Myint.  “When we get sick, we get only one day sick leave and we will be dismissed from job if we take leave for three days. If you get pregnant, you are advised to leave the job. We are not entitled to maternal leave,” she added.

Ms. Myint lived in a village of Wall District, Pa-go Division in Myanmar. She finished primary education and worked as a farmer. Twelve years ago, she decided to come to Thailand because she faced many hardships and found it difficult to survive in Myanmar. Now Myint is 28 years old, single and works at a garment factory in Mae Sot. She came to Mae Sot to seek better work opportunities in the hope of sending money back to her family in Myanmar.

Although Myint migrated to Thailand with hopes of a better income and a brighter future, she faced many challenges and could not do as her expectations “In our factory we are not allowed to drink water and not allowed to use the toilet after lunch time from 1:00pm to 1:30pm. Our room is only six square feet and two workers have to stay in each room. Water quality is very poor and we get aches after we take a bath,” Myint said.

In June 2012, a total of 311 migrant workers out of 420 workers in her factory staged a protest seeking better wages. Ms. Myint was one of the migrant workers who led the protest. The factory delayed payment of wages three times in June and the protesters called for payment of wages and an increase in wages to the full legal minimum wage of 226 Baht or $7.5 per day. The migrant workers took legal action against their employer and sought assistance from the Mae Sot Labor Protection Office, who negotiated with the employer on their behalf. The employer finally agreed to pay the workers who had protested the minimum wage of 226 Baht or $7.5  per day but did not agree to pay this to workers who had not participated in the protest.

“I am very please that we now get legal minimum wage. We really appreciate Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affairs and other Burmese Civil Society Organization for their efforts. We would not have achieved what we wanted without their support. They assisted us by advising us on how to take legal action against the employer, providing. moral support, labor rights information, food, accommodation, and security. In the past, we were not aware of our entitlements and were afraid to speak up about our grievances,” Myint said.

The Attainment of Migrant Women’s Rights and Entitlements (AMWRE) program administered by ADRA Thailand in partnership with UKaid is dedicated to the fair treatment of migrant workers in Thailand.

By ADRA Thailand