Burmese Overseas Workers Hope for Change in their Country

October 17, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. laborer (n.)
[ley-ber-er] – someone who does physical or manual work
Example: Many laborers go to other countries to look for work with higher pay.

2. deport (v.) [dih-pawrt, -pohrt] – to force someone to leave a country
Example: The criminal was deported back to his country.

3. tedious (adj.) [tee-dee-uh s, tee-juh s] – tiresome and taking a long time
Example: Applying for some jobs can be tedious because of the many requirements that need to be passed.

4. flee (v.) [flee] – to run away or escape from a place
Example:  Thousands of refugees are trying to flee from Syria because of the war.

5. reluctant (adj.) [ri-luhk-tuh nt] – not wanting to do something
Example: He is reluctant to work abroad because he does not want to leave his family.

Read the text below.

Recent political changes in Burma are giving hope to Burmese migrant laborers in Thailand who want support from their home country.

Thailand has been the main option for millions of Burmese people who wish to get away from military rule and who want better job opportunities. But majority of Burmese laborers are unregistered or work in Thailand illegally, which means they could be arrested or deported anytime.  Laborers also end up taking dangerous jobs that Thai people do not want to do.  

Getting work permits and legal documents can be tedious and expensive for both employers and migrant employees.  For this reason, many Burmese workers take risky jobs even without access to employee rights or benefits.

However, they are willing to take the risk than to return home. Ta Jandee, for example, was arrested and forced by Burmese soldiers to become a porter and carry supplies in the jungle. He decided to flee to Thailand to avoid the more difficult life in his home country.

In Thailand, Burmese laborers get help and information through the Migrant Assistance Program headed by Jackie Pollock.

Pollock says that as part of political changes, the Burmese labor ministry is working on issues of migrant laborers. She says with the new developments in labor policies, Burma may push Thailand to improve working conditions of Burmese migrant workers.

The Burmese government started giving identity certificates last August to migrant workers who want to return home. Nonetheless, some Burmese workers are still reluctant to go home until they are sure it is safe to return or until they have saved enough money.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What may be some disadvantages of having a military-type of government?
·         Do you think your own government gives you enough freedom? What makes you say so?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think many people want to work abroad?
·         What do you think can people do to avoid going abroad to work?


October 17, 2012