Eight Cambodian workers were killed while travelling to Chanthaburi province in Thailand to extend their work permits.
Thai media, Pattaya News, reported on Saturday that the minibus they were travelling in had collided with a trailer truck in Mueang Chonburi.
The news outlet added that the van had been completely full. The Thai trailer driver escaped uninjured and told local media he was trying to climb up a hill with his heavily-loaded vehicle when the truck rear-ended him.
He suspected that the driver of the trailer truck may have fallen asleep at the wheel, Pattaya News reported.
Four passengers were pronounced dead at the site of the accident. Four others later died at a local hospital, according to the news report. Multiple others suffered injuries, it added.
In a letter of condolence, the Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said it was shocked to learn of the tragic traffic accident and that the eight killed were Cambodian workers. Seven others who were injured are being treated in a local hospital, the letter said.
Moeun Tola, Executive Director of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), said he hopes that the Cambodian Embassy intervenes by pushing for insurance coverage for those killed and injured, and that the information about the tragedy should be communicated to their families.
Tola added that accidents are only one of the challenges facing migrant workers, including language and pay.
“They have difficulty communicating when they are sick or have problems. Moreover, their wages are still a problem. Even though in Thailand they have announced a wage raise, some company owners still do not pay enough wages to workers,” Tola told Kiripost on Monday.
He said that it is “concerning” for those who do not have legal documents as they are unable to make 300 Thai baht ($8.73) per day and can only earn 200 baht ($5.82).
“The reason that some bosses do that is because they want to keep some money to give to the police when they come to check workplaces,” he said.
“However, when some migrant workers earn a high salary, then bosses don’t want to give them the salary and they call the police to arrest them, so workers are afraid. Then they will escape without pay,” he added.