Background to the Project
In January 2016, ADRA Thailand started a 36–month Project entitled Enhanced Capacities for Migrant Advocacy (ECMA) funded by the European Union that aimed at strengthening and empowering marginalized and vulnerable migrant workers in Mae Sot, Thailand. The project targets 3,750 migrant factory workers in Mae Sot, Thailand.
Thailand’s rapid economic growth in the past few decades has created a high demand for low-skilled and low-cost labour, attracting a large number of migrant workers from the three neighbouring countries, namely Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Cambodia, to fill the gap of labor shortage. An estimated 3 million migrant workers from these three countries hold either regular or irregular status in Thailand . As located in a bordering province – Tak, Mae Sot has eventually become a transit and destination of Myanmar migrants because of its high concentration of factories. According to statistics from the Tak Provincial Office, there were 27,059 Myanmar migrant workers registered at the Mae Sot District’s One Stop Service Center during the migrant registration process in 2015. Migrant workers are employed in factories in textiles, garments, food processing and ceramics. The majority of migrant workers are from Myanmar, with Burmese representing the largest ethnic group, along with other ethnic groups such as Karen, Mon and Arakanese.
The major problems facing Burmese migrant workers include: i) lack of awareness about their rights due to language barriers and accessibility to information. Importantly, a limited human resources of the local Labour Protection and Welfare Office compares to a large migrant population in the area; ii.) factory owners do not follow Thai labour law by registering their factories, leading migrant workers to become vulnerable in terms of working in unsafe, unhygienic conditions; iii) a major health concerns of migrant workers included skeletal or muscular illnesses due to heavy workloads and poor occupational health and safety standards; iv) lack of capacity of CSOs to engage in the dialogue process, at national level – little effective coordination, limited resources and travel restrictions, which are among major factors that limit the ability of CSOs to engage directly and actively in policy advocacy dialogue; and v) poor living and unhealthy conditions since migrants are often housed in overcrowded accommodation with inadequate facilities; some factories restrict their workers to the factory premises giving them no opportunity to find other accommodation.
In 2017, the ECMA project provided a series of training specifically focusing on OSH laws including legal processes and labour rights for 165 factory migrant workers, construction workers, and CSO volunteers, among which around 50 trainees formed a paralegal alumni group.
They launched a facebook page as a platform for sharing updates on law and policies affecting migrants and to provide real accounts of ‘on the ground’ migrant situations. The trained paralegals were expected to assist migrant workers access basis services and the justice system through the existing referral networks. A general lack of knowledge on legal processes in combination with language barriers and the irregular status amongst migrant workers were noted as some of the key factors obstructing access to legal protection. Having a group of a trained and invested paralegals can be seen as a sustainable solution for long–term migrant rights advocacy and assistance.
In March 2020, ADRA Thailand and HRDF as co–applicant started a 36–month project entitled CSO Development for the Promotion and Advancement of Migrant Rights (CSO DPAMR) Project funded by the European Union, which targets 2,500 migrant workers in Mae Sot, Thailand.
The proposed action is developed based on results of the ECMA project funded by the EU, where ECMA final evaluation found that the paralegal alumni group needs further technical support and strengthening while serving as focal/referral points of migrants in the community. Based on the recommendation from the final evaluation, the proposed new activitiy aims at strengthening and increasing knowledge as well as providing needed skills for the trained paralegal alumni group to enable them to perform their roles more effectively. A rapid need assessment will be carried out among the alumni to identify specific skills and themes where capacity or knowledge need to be developed or strengthened.
Unsafe and unfair working conditions are key problems faced by migrant workers. The results of legal assistance and counseling program provided to migrant workers in Mae Sot during the ECMA project revealed that a majority of migrants seeking assistance struggled with unfair labour practices, such as dismissal, unpaid wages or underpaid wages, especially wage discrimination based on gender which is still a frequent and widespread practice among factory migrant workers.
Expected results and impacts of the action The overall objective of this action aims to reduce gender inequality in the labour force as the results from the ECMA project evaluation. This proposed activity will give specific attention to female migrant workers subjected to gender-based discrimination. The issue related to gender equality and women’s empowerment will be included in trainings as a cross-cutting issue. Moreover, this proposed activity intends to empower female paralegals to address specific issue faced by women migrant workers and increase their participation in the alumni trainings. The result of this activity will contribute to the overall objective of the proposed action on increasing social and economic equality of migrant workers in the target areas. Further, HRDF/LLC plan to produce a case study handbook detailing successful cases of assisting migrant workers in rights claim and entitlements that HRDF/LLC has done in the past. This handbook will be very helpful for paralegals, CSO partners and migrant workers to gainknowledge and understanding on specific entitlements. This handbook will be in Thai and Myanmar languages.
It is envisaged that these identified problems will be tackled through the “CSO Development for the Promotion and Advancement of Migrant Rights (CSO DPAMR)” project. The stated objective will be achieved by three expected results described below:
Result 1: Improved awareness of and adherence to labour laws among target employers and migrant workers
Result 2: Enhanced CSO capacity to engage in policy dialogue platforms and networks for migrant rights and
Result 3: Strengthened collaboration between CSOs, local authorities, and private sector to bring about improved labour/human rights for migrant workers
Paralegal Alumni Training
The individual consultant or the consultant team will undertake the following activity that proposed by the project under Result 1:
Conduct two (2) paralegal alumni trainings for 30 members of paralegal alumni group in order to enhance their capacity on handling and presenting migrant legal case to the Labor Law Clinic (LLC), Maesot Lawyer Association for Human Rights along the Border (LHB) and Labor Protection Office (LPO).
Key Tasks of the Lead Consultant or Consulting Team
The individual consultant or the consulting team will undertake the following activities in order to provide two-day comprehensive training for at least 30 parelegal alumni in order to expland the paralegal alumni with 20 months ( Febuary 2021 to September 2022)
Timeframe of the Paralegal Alumni Training
Training curriculum will be developed or modified by the first quarter of 2021. Two paralegal trainings will be scheduled and conducted within 20 months (Februuary 2021 to September 2022) through close coordination with HRDF/LLC Thailand.
Background of the Consultant
Submission of Application
 Thailand Migration Report 2014, International Organization for Migration (IOM).
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