In Search of a Job-Any Job from John Hulme .
In Search Of A Job…Any Job Burmese Migrants In Thailand multimedia story by John Hulme
The past thirty years have seen an ever-increasing global restructuring of production and investment, as capital has moved freely from industrial centers in Europe and North America to countries with the cheapest labour. This in turn has produced vast numbers of migrant workers.
This ability for capital to move freely between countries stands in stark contrast to the hundreds of Burmese day labourers and factory workers who cross the Moie River each day on rubber inner tubes, running the gauntlet of extortion from officials on both sides of the border. Illegal migrants scuttling across borders is a scene repeated not only in Asia, but daily in Europe and the Americas also.
According to recent statistics, there are now more than 191 million migrants, the largest number in human history. In fact, every country has a growing migrant population —legal and “illegal”—struggling to escape poverty, famine, political repression or war. Thailand is no exception, with an estimated two and a half million migrants from Burma (now known as Myanmar) entering the country since the mid-1980s in search of a job…any job…and the hope of a better life for their families. Gross human rights abuse by Burma ’s military government—the so-called State Peace and Development Council, or SPDC—as well as decades of internal armed conflict have accelerated this process.
But life in Thailand for Burmese migrants brings new difficulties. More than half of these mainly young workers are undocumented, forced to eke out a living on rock bottom wages and in constant fear of deportation. They are employed in dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs in Thailand ’s fishing and construction industries, rubber plantations, dockyards and shrimp farms, as well as providing cheap labour for the tourist industry. Over the past six years, I have been making regular visits to Thailand ’s western border with Burma to record the plight of these desperately poor workers and their families. In Search of a Job…any Job is a selection of this work and one that hopefully reminds us of the difficulties facing working migrants in every country who are the first victims of any economic fluctuation.
About John Hulme.
John Hulme is a documentary photographer dividing his time between South East Asia and Britain. His work has focused on documenting social issues in Europe, Thailand, Burma and India.
John’s work has been published in books, Magazines and newspapers, including AOL, Pacific Press (Japan), MacMillan Education, Heinemann, BBC, McGraw Hill (US), Longman Asia, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Hodder Wayland, Franklin Watts, AA Publishing, Reed Primary, MacMillan Oxford, Independent On Sunday, Evans Brothers, Aladdin Books, APA Publications (Singapore), Dorling Kindersley, Financial Times and The Sydney Morning Herald.
As an accredited photographer for the BBC and Channel Four he has been involved in the production of several documentary’s, most recently for Panorama shooting Hi-8 footage of Thailand’s Chicken farms and slaughter house’s.
John was invited by Kent University, Canterbury (UK) to exhibit his work. The exhibition “Burma’s Forgotten War” Images from the Thai/Burma border depicting Karen insurgents, Refugee camps and backpack medic’s, was well received, informing both students and academics about a part of the world that receives little if any, media attention.
Recent work includes the documentation of Burmese Migrant Workers, the Karen people of Burma, including their military wing, the Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)., And Gold Mining in Kachin state Upper Burma.