MMN Celebrates the 18th International Migrants’ Day in Mae Sot, Thailand

Mekong Migration Network (MMN) co-organised an event in collaboration with MAP Foundation and migrant collectives based in Mae Sot, Thailand, on 18 December 2022 to celebrate International Migrants’ Day (IMD). Over 180 people, including migrant workers and representatives of migrant supporting organisations, gathered to take part in a day of engaging activities and insightful discussions.

A village headsman from Mae Tao, Thailand, gave the opening remarks, highlighting the importance of collaborating with migrants to support continual community development. This was followed by a presentation by Mr. Moe Kyaw from Yaung Chi Oo Workers’ Association, who provided a brief history of IMD and underscored the significant contributions of migrant workers to the development of destination countries. He unveiled the theme of this year’s IMD: “Everyone has the right to migrate and work safely.”

Mr. Suthisak Rungruangphasuk from MAP Foundation read the International Migrants’ Day Statement with the demands to open Certificate of Identity Centres to facilitate migration and documentation procedures; enable migrants aged 45 or above to withdraw a lump sum of their contributions to the Thai Social Security System—down from the current age of 55 or above; include migrant agricultural workers in the relevant minimum wage policy and establish a one-stop service centre for migrant workers. Please click here to read the full statement.

As part of the event, MMN screened a video featuring migrant workers who work in Thailand’s agricultural sector. Focusing on Northern Thailand’s cassava plantations, the video documents the lives of migrant workers in the sector and explores the challenges they face relating to documentation status, working hours, wage, occupational health and safety, among other issues. The video segued into a game and discussion about the conditions of migrant agricultural workers in Thailand, which provided a forum for migrant workers to share their own experiences navigating difficult situations. Mr. Kyaw Zay Ya, a migrant representative, spoke about an ongoing labour dispute he was having with his former employer, whose garment factory shut down in 2020 without prior notice after he had worked there for 15 years. He highlighted the importance for migrants to share knowledge and information among each other and make advances as a collective.

The day ended with the attending civil society organisations introducing their work and organising another game that helped to illustrate the rights entitled to migrant workers and the support available to them.

MMN thanks all participants for their active involvement in the day’s celebration and hopes to continue supporting sessions such as this to facilitate information sharing and community building between migrant workers and migrant supporting organisations.