Woken in the middle of the night as a fire ravaged their apartment building, the young men and women who rented the rooms and worked as cleaners and construction workers, ran as fast as they could. A young girl carried her disabled brother on her back to safety. One Shan man was severely burnt and remains in ICU in hospital, another young man had his arm burnt and is being treated by the hospital.
Today the workers are safe in a temple but that hospitality will run out soon. Less than 24 hours after the traumatic fire, the employers were already contacting them. Some offering a small donation, but all insisting that they go back to work the next day. As informal sector workers, the migrant workers affected by this fire, do not get paid sick leave, but they can’t even take unpaid sick leave without fear of losing their jobs.
They have lost everything that they have worked for. Those who were paying off their motorbikes are left with the debts to finish the payment and no motorbike. No personal transport also means having to find at least 30 baht a day to get to and from work to pay the exorbitant costs of transportation in Chiang Mai where there are no public buses but only expensive “silors” (private mini-buses).
The local authorities (tessabarn) have promised to coordinate with the Department of Employment to ensure that the migrants’ documents which were burnt in the fire are re-issued quickly so that at least the migrants do not have to fear being arrested by the police. As the employers are already insisting that the traumatized workers return to work, it is hoped that the tessabarn and Department of Employment will act quickly.
For further information please contact:
Nang 089 633 6477 (Thai and Shan)
Kan 085 865 1979 (Thai and English)