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>> Thailand's military rulers bowing to public panic, delaying parts of a new labor law that's still sending tens of thousands of migrant workers scrambling over the border. It's meant to tackle human trafficking, laborers and their employers without permits will face heavy fines or jail time. Officially, there are 3 million foreign laborers in Thailand, many from poor neighbors Cambodia and Myanmar, though rights groups say the real number is far higher.
Even though Bangkok's kicked the deadline down the road, Reuters Pannu Wong Chong says the economy is in shock.>> We have seen businesses in the fishing industry that largely depends on migrant workers short of labors. But then I have also spoken to construction companies that lost over 75% of its workforce overnight.
So, the impact on businesses may be felt in the medium and long term, and how soon can Thai businesses adjust to these new regulations and bring the workers it has already left back to work. That's the key challenge going forward.>> Thailand's military junta says the ban was meant to address global concerns, just a month after the US State Department downgraded Thailand, taking it down a notch to Tier II in its annual trafficking report.
>> Over the last few years, Thailand has been put under pressure by the United States, as well as the European Union, on issues like human trafficking, on issues like forced labor in the fishing industry. So, this new tough labor regulations is part of this whole package that the military government has introduced to try to address this international pressure.
But judging by his hastily implementation, it is very clear that there is a lack of communication between the government, businesses, as well the workers themselves.>> Workers that stayed behind tell Reuters they're racked with anxiety, some say they've sent family without papers home. Others have managed to get permits but have since switched jobs, leaving them facing an uncertain future.