Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha wants the new labour cooperation deal between Thailand and Saudi Arabia to be implemented within two months, says government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.
â€œThe PM stressed the need to begin supplying Saudi Arabia with Thai workers immediately, and that the cooperation should take shape in two months, to ensure Thai workers have access to job opportunities in Saudi Arabia,â€ he said.
The Department of Skill Development under the Ministry of Labour will begin coordinating with the labour office in Riyadh to carry out the deal with Saudi Arabia, which was reached during Gen Prayutâ€™s official visit this week.
The labour deal was hashed out in talks which took place after Gen Prayut met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud â€” who also serves as the countryâ€™s deputy prime minister and minister of defence â€” to re-establish relations between the kingdoms.
â€œThe deal was secured in a bilateral talk between Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin and his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Ahmed bin Suleiman al-Rajhi,â€ said Mr Thanakorn.
â€œUnder the deal, both sides have agreed to push to implement further labour cooperation in various sectors, particularly hotels, health and wellness, and construction.â€
Currently, there are only 1,345 Thai workers in Saudi Arabia, most of whom travelled to the country and found jobs on their own, he said.
These workers are employed as welders, technicians, mechanics, factory workers, machine operators, cook assistants and housemaids.
Job brokers authorised by the Ministry of Labour will be regularly audited, as required by Saudi Arabian labour rules, to ensure fair working conditions for departing Thai workers, he said.
More meetings between Thai and Saudi Arabian labour ministers, job brokerage firms and other labour authorities from the two nations are expected soon, he said.
â€œThis weekâ€™s historic talks between Thailand and Saudi Arabia didnâ€™t happen by chance, but they were the result of the Thai governmentâ€™s efforts over the past six years,â€ he said.
â€œMore cooperation between Thailand and Saudi Arabia is on the horizon, which will bring benefits to both nations and their people alike.â€
Thailand used to send around 200,000 workers to Saudi Arabia, according to Prof Jaran Maluleem, a lecturer on Middle East studies at Thammasat University.
He said the deal will be a real challenge for Thailand, as the government will have to work hard to improve the standards of Thai workers to meet their employersâ€™ expectations.
At the same time, it must also ensure the rights of these workers will be well protected, Mr Jaran said.