Thai authorities say workers from Laos, Cambodia and Burma can stay and work in Thailand for two more years, but they must be legally registered.
Authorities say there are approximately 96-thousands registered workers from Laos. Of that number, about 56-thousands have had their nationality verified, and that officials from both countries have agreed that they will complete nationality verification for the other 40-thousands workers by the end of the extended two-year period.
Thailand's Labor Minister Oulayvanh Thienthong also told her Lao counterpart, Onechanh Thammavong, during a recent visit to Laos that Thai employers have informed the government that they need an additional 50,000 workers from Laos. But they must come from employment agencies approved by the Lao government.
Lao employment agencies say they are working actively to provide the needed labor to Thailand but it is difficult because of shortage of skilled labor, and not many workers come to apply.
VOA-Lao's Bangkok stringer Songrit Pongern observes that one reason that keeps interested workers away from employment agencies is the large fee that they have to pay, between 15,000-20,000 Bahts, compared to 5,000 Bahts charged by illegal brokers. In addition, registered workers in Thailand must pay a fee of almost 4,000 Bahts to Thai authorities.
On the average, workers in Thailand earn a monthly wage of 5,000 Bahts a month. Even though it is a small amount compared to what their Thai counterparts make, but it is still five times higher than what they can make in Laos. Therefore, the majority of Lao workers would rather pay illegal brokers to find them jobs in Thailand.
It is estimated that there are currently over 300-thousand workers from Laos illegally working in Thailand, and risking falling victims of human trafficking.
Listen to Songrit's report for more details in Lao.