December 15, 2011—Thailand is still grappling with the aftermath of the historic October 2011 floods that swamped 1,500 factories in more than 20 provinces, killed 700, and left hundreds of thousands of workers jobless. Natural disasters are especially hard on migrant workers and may increase their vulnerability to exploitation such as human trafficking. With support from the Solidarity Center, the State Enterprises Workers Relation Confederation (SERC) has organized transportation, food, medical assistance, and relief for migrant workers in several Thai provinces. On December 18, International Migrants Day, we recognize the efforts, contributions, and rights of migrants worldwide.
||SERC members distribute food to migrant workers after the floods. Photo courtesy of SERC
“Migrant workers, the great majority of them from Burma, have received little government assistance beyond a single shelter inadequate for the thousands of migrant workers who now have no homes,” said Robert Pajkovski, Solidarity Center country program director in Thailand. “Language barriers prevent these workers from accessing further government aid. Even those who are officially documented fear traveling outside their province, and undocumented workers do not dare to appear in public.”
With support from the Solidarity Center, SERC purchased a motorboat, medicine, transportation, and food for flood victims housed at several donation centers/shelters in Greater Bangkok. In cooperation with the Thai labor movement, SERC also opened a flood relief center in Samut Songkhram province, a tourist destination about 40 miles southwest of Bangkok. The center aims to protect both Thai and migrant workers from being taken advantage of during the crisis. It serves as a shelter for those who lost their homes in the floods. It also provides food, clothing, and medical treatment for unemployed workers. In addition, it offers assistance to migrant workers who would like to leave the country, helping them obtain the necessary transportation and documentation. So far, SERC staff has been on more than 10 trips to distribute flood relief items to flood victims and affected SERC members in four provinces, including Bangkok.
“On this International Migrants Day, the Solidarity Center is highlighting the particular difficulty that migrant workers face after natural disasters,” said Neha Misra, the Solidarity Center’s senior specialist on migration and human trafficking. “Because they are away from their families and communities, and are often undocumented, migrant workers may be more affected by natural disasters than local residents. After the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Solidarity Center and its partners rushed to protect the rights of migrant workers. We will continue to help these workers, whose only goal is to seek decent wages and a better life for themselves and their families.”
Thai Unions Support Workers Left Vulnerable by Historic Floods.
October 25, 2011—Devastating floods at levels not seen in more than a half-century have left large parts of Thailand under water, forcing many workers and their families to abandon their homes and jobs to seek shelter. The official death toll stands at 356.
Learn more about the Solidarity Center's Migration and Human Trafficking programs