Inside a rice storage in Thailand (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) –
Thailand will impose harsh penalties on illegal worker brokers, the country’s Ministry of Labour said in a statement on July 9, warning that companies using illegal brokers will face the risk of being accused of human trafficking.

Those who bring migrant workers to work in Thailand without permission would be sentenced for 3-10 years in prison or fined from 600,000 – 1,000,000 THB (17,000 – 29,000 USD), or both, the ministry noted.

It added that there are only 81 authorised brokers in Thailand and 38 of them are based in Bangkok.

The statement was made when thousands of migrant workers continued to flee from Thailand amid widespread fear about the tougher new foreign worker management law.

As the new law is likely to force many businesses to terminate the employment of current workers and trigger a labour shortage, there is a risk of human trafficking during this period since illegal brokers might take advantage of the situation to supply migrant workers to employers in urgent need.

After the delay of the enforcement of the law’s few articles, the ministry has allowed Thai employers to register their Lao, Cambodian and Myanmar workers at temporary centres throughout the country from July 24 to August 7. It is estimated that only half of the five million migrant workers from the three countries are working legally in Thailand.

The ministry’s permanent secretary Puntrik Smiti earlier stressed the need for Thailand to put a harsher labour law in place to meet international standards and stop using unregistered migrant workers.

The country is named in the human-trafficking watch-list of the US Department of State.-VNA