Unemployment soars to 700,000 as factories close

Unemployment soars to 700,000 as factories close

A woman receives a bag of food and essential supplies on April 8, 2020 at Wat That Thong in Bangkok’s Watthana district. The hand-out is part of an initiative of the Supreme Patriarch to help those in need during Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
A woman receives a bag of food and essential supplies on April 8, 2020 at Wat That Thong in Bangkok’s Watthana district. The hand-out is part of an initiative of the Supreme Patriarch to help those in need during Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has almost doubled to 700,000 people from December last year, with 140,000 registering in March alone.

Thousands of workers have lost their jobs following some factory closures amid the Covid-19 outbreak, according to the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare (DLPW).

Apinya Sujarittanan, director-general of the department, on Friday said the Social Security Fund recorded more than 700,000 people claiming unemployment benefits.

Mr Apinya said it was a sharp jump compared to 360,000 who did so in December.

He said the figure reflects the number of people recently laid off. Mr Apinya said another surge is expected to be recorded at the end of this month as the kingdom continues to undergo the Covid-19-induced economic slump.

He said from October to March, a total of 992 businesses closed, compared to 511 during the same period between 2018 and 2019.

A total of 13,407 workers were affected by the closures and those who did not receive compensation filed complaints with labour inspectors, Mr Apinya said, adding it was an increase compared to the same period the year before.

He said that between October last year and March this year, 1,113 businesses temporarily closed, a hike compared to 117 during the same period in the previous year.

Mr Apinya said 271,446 workers were affected by these temporary closures, an increase when compared to 37,821 during the same period of the previous year.

A Mitsubishi Electric factory in the Amata Nakorn Industrial Estate in Chon Buri province laid off 1,119 contract workers yesterday, Mr Apinya said, noting the factory produces air conditioners.

He said the company informed his department that the laid-off workers were compensated and given payments worth more than 41 million baht.

Mr Apinya said that officials from the Chon Buri office of labour protection and welfare had visited the workers and explained the benefits they are entitled to.

As for labour inspectors, Mr Apinya said they were told to follow up on cases and ensure workers receive fair compensation after being laid off.

Mr Apinya said the air-con factory was not the only production facility scaling back workers. He said 144 workers will lose their jobs after Siam City Cement Plc decided to close a production line at its factory in Saraburi.

The company said the coronavirus pandemic affected its business and production orders had declined sharply since the outbreak, he said, adding company executives decided to cut its production capacity by closing a production line at one of its factories effective May 1.

Mr Apinya said 144 out of 2,100 will be laid off.

The company reportedly said it will compensate laid-off workers and also provide welfare benefits as required by the Labour Law.


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