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Year: 2013 Type: Book Chapter Language: English

Migrants and migrant support groups work in a global environment which is increasingly anti-migration, linking migration with encroachment on the employment opportunities of local workers, with bringing in ‘alien’ values and ways of living and, in recent years, with terrorism and issues of national security. Migrant women live in a world where most women are still struggling to be able to exercise their rights, including the basic right to decent and productive work. Poorer migrant women workers work in a global environment which promotes temporary work and places more and more women in what is called the informal economy, a term which allows corporations and employers to evade their responsibilities to their workers but makes little sense to migrant workers who are subject to an intimidating array of rules and regulations, governing all aspects of what they can and cannot do. The only thing that is informal about the lives of poor migrant workers are the conditions under which they work and how they are paid. This chapter deals with the experiences of the MAP Foundation in Thailand, an organization that came into existence in response to the precarious position and the accompanying rights violations experienced by migrants from Burma working across the border in Thailand. MAP works with migrant men, women and children from Burma but has a special programme for women which is the main focus of this chapter. About half of the two million migrants from Burma in Thailand are women and they work in almost every sector apart from fishing and mining. These women are located at the intersection of multiple forms of oppression: as women, as migrants, as informal workers and as members of persecuted ethnic minorities in their country of origin. As one of the founding members of the organization, this chapter is based on the author’s reflections on what motivated the setting up of MAP and some of the tactics and strategies they have used to organize a highly vulnerable group of workers.

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