Getting skills for work
In Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border, new migrants from Burma are learning valuable work skills thanks to the Occupational Training Centre set up by the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) with support from UnionAID.
Yin Yin and La Ka Prae Moo crossed the border in the hope of finding work in Thailand and have come to the training centre to learn the sewing skills they need to get jobs.
Yin Yin, who is from the Irrawaddy Delta region of Burma, said that life became hard after her village was hit by Cyclone Nargis and her family home was destroyed, so she decided to try to find a job in Thailand. She likes to sew and hopes to make a living by sewing when she returns to Burma. In the meantime she will get a job at a sewing factory in Thailand and save some money to take home.
La Ka Prae Moo comes from Karen state, where she said “it was very hard to survive”. Her family needed income, so she decided to come to Thailand in search of work. “My ambition is to save some money in Thailand for the next two years and then with my sewing skills and savings I will return to Burma to be a tailor.” She said that the sewing course was very useful, especially since it included learning how to sew details like collars and pockets.
As part of the course, the trainees learn about Thai labour laws and the role of workers’ organisations like the FTUB. The trainees are aware that employers don’t always follow the law and that workers’ organisations are there to help if there are problems. Yin Yin says that “learning about labour laws was good, but we don’t know yet what it will be like in practice, because we are new here”. As La Ka Prae Moo added, “if we have problems at work we know we can contact the trainer and also to the workers’ organisations.”