Thailand: Migrant workers have the right to workers' compensation

At least 2 million migrants from Burma work in low-skilled, dirty and dangerous jobs in Thailand from which they frequently incur accidents and disease.

Since 2001, Thailand has discriminated against migrant work accident victims from Burma by denying them access to the Workmen’s Compensation Fund (WCF), even though all workers regardless of national origin are legally eligible for access to this fund. These work accident victims are denied access to work accident compensation from the WCF, rehabilitation assistance and are also denied the right to register as disabled if they suffer permanent disabilities at work.

This denial is on the basis that most of these workers were smuggled into Thailand “illegally,” despite more than 1 million of them registering legally to work.

The State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation (SERC), an affiliate of the ITUC, has since 2007 demanded an end to this systematic discrimination against all migrants in Thailand to ensure their access to the WCF equally with Thai workers.

The ILO’s Committee of Experts in February 2010 responded to a SERC complaint on this issue stating denial of access to the WCF to migrants from Burma breaches ILO Convention 19 on equality of accident compensation.

Thailand then announced plans to set up an insurance scheme managed by private insurance companies to provide compensation to migrant work accident victims. SERC disagrees with this proposal as it is discriminatory and unlawful, but despite our protests, the Government continues to push ahead with this scheme.