Laos and Thailand have agreed to cooperate more closely to assist Lao workers in Thailand who hold a passport but whose temporary work permit has expired.
At present, there are about 94,000 Lao workers in Thailand whose temporary work permits and passports have expired but who have temporary identity cards. There are about 71,000 Lao workers with work permits.
Acting Director General of the Department of Labour Skill Development and Employment under the Lao Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ms Anousone Khamsingsavath, Thursday explained the situation after the signing of an agreement in Bangkok, Thailand, on September 9-10 concerning assistance for Lao workers in Thailand.
Under this agreement, Laos will open assistance centres in seven locations in Vientiane and neighbouring provinces of Thailand. The centres will operate from next month until the end of this year. Centres will be set up in Champassak, Saravan, Savannakhet, Khammuan and Xayaboury.
Lao workers returning from Thailand will be able to register at these centres and acquire new passports so they can be legally re-employed in Thailand, Ms Anousone said.
The agreement continues on from an earlier one signed between Laos and Thailand in Luang Prabang province in July on the setting up of a centre in Thailand to upgrade the status of Lao nationals who had work permits, she added. The centre will extend the work permits and passports held by Lao nationals working in Thailand, and provide assistance for Lao workers who cannot return home to register in Laos.
Director General of the Employment Department under Thailand's Ministry of Labour, Mr Waranan Pitiwan, said the Thai government would open centres in Bangkok to help Lao workers who held a valid passport but whose temporary work permit had expired.
The Thai government would extend the work permits and help workers to apply for the necessary documents including work permits, after confirming their nationality with their country of origin.
Foreign workers may be able to get jobs in certain industries such as garment production, but could not make hand-crafted traditional Thai costumes which the law interprets as cultural conservation and is only open to Thai nationals.