authorities overcharge migrant workers for covi19 tests
Thailand – Rights activists accused Thai authorities of overpricing Covid-19 test kits for migrant workers in Thailand. Activists said this is discrimination against migrant workers.
Migrant workers who wish to work in Thailand are required to undertake a Covid-19 test. They are required to undergo three RT-PCR tests. However, the price of the Covid-19 test in the northern province of Chiang Mai, a hub of migrant workers from Myanmar, has been set at 3,000 baht (US$90).
Reportedly, migrant workers are also required to pay for health check-ups, health insurance, and various other fees to get an ID card and work permit. These additional expenses amount to more than 9,000 baht. However, migrants work for the minimum wage of 300 baht or less a day in Thailand.
Rights advocates said that migrants with children are further required to pay another 3,000 baht per child for mandatory Covid-19 tests in addition to other administrative fees. An ethnic Shan migrant worker from Myanmar said, “I paid 3,500 baht to my broker to extend my visa.”
Reportedly, five million migrant workers, mainly from Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, work in Thailand, but since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, many have fallen on hard times with unemployment.
These migrants have suffered financially and faced various forms of discrimination in Thailand because of the unemployment and Covid-19 pandemic. Rights advocates said that to get a job, they are required to pay more money in Thailand. However, the most economically disadvantaged migrant workers are unable to pay 3,000 baht for a Covid-19 test. Sai Tip Awan, who works with the Human Rights and Development Foundation in Chiang Mai, said, “The Thai government’s policy makers treat workers as if they were a problem, a group that needs to be tightly regulated and forced to obey them.”