‘Slave Labor’ Jobs to Relocate from Thailand to Burma
Thousands of jobs will be on offer in greater Rangoon if a group of Thai garment factory owners relocate to Burma—where working conditions will probably be better than in Thailand.
The garment making trade in Thailand is notorious for employing migrant labor from Burma, Laos and Cambodia and paying them less than half the minimum official Thai daily wage. NGOs have campaigned for a long time to spotlight the near-slave labor conditions in many garment factories in Thailand and the unfair treatment of migrant workers.
In a 2010 report, Human Rights Watch said many of the between two and three million migrant workers in Thailand suffered “severe human rights abuses.”
The Bangkok-based newspaper The Nation reported that six or more major Thai clothes producers were planning to move their operations to Burma to take advantage of cheaper labor because the Thai government will impose a minimum wage of 300 baht (US $9.75) a day from April in line with an election promise.
They were being lured by a “clearer policy to promote growth and revise rules and regulations to facilitate investment” in Burma, the paper quoted Thai Garment Manufacturers Association spokesman Vallop Vitanakorn as saying.
“It’s a sick irony that the Thai garment makers say they want to relocate to Burma because they cannot afford a rise in the minimum wage in Thailand to 300 baht per day. Clothing manufacturers in Thailand have thrived on poorly paid migrant labor, much of which is Burmese,” said a rights campaigner in Bangkok who asked to remain anonymous.
“This migrant labor, from Laos and Cambodia as well as Burma, is often paid no more than 100 baht per day, which is half the current official Thai minimum. Moving to Burma means they will probably pay half less again.”
New Offshore Gas Discovery by Burmese Firm
A private Burmese company says it has found gas during exploratory drillings in the sea off the nation's western coast near Ramree Island.
The discovery was reported by MPRL E&P Limited (Myanmar Petroleum Resources Limited) which has a licence to explore Block A-6, although the actual drilling was carried out by Korea National Oil Corporation.
MPRL said the gas was found in shallow water but at more than 1,000 meters beneath the seabed. MPRL has its business registration address in Singapore but is controlled by Myint & Associates owned by Rangoon businessman Moe Myint.
The firm gave no indication of the size of the gas discovery but said in a statement it is “receiving a lot of interest from oil majors and investment groups.”
Block A-6 is south of several blocks in the Shwe field where a huge reserve of 200 billion cubic metres of gas will soon be tapped and piped to China.
Indonesian Firm Eyes Burmese Cement Factory Plan
The largest cement manufacturer in Indonesia is considering building a production factory in Burma to fill the gap between supply and demand.
Burma has to import around 50 percent of its six million tonnes per year of needed cement because of inadequate local production capacity, and demand is forecast by the building industry to greatly increase as political reform leads to economic growth.
Indonesian manufacturer Semen Gresik told the Jakarta Post that it had begun talks in Burma to “assess possibilities” for building a production plant there, said company development director Erizal Bakar.
“[Burma] imports cement from China, Thailand and India.