State urged to speed up return of migrants
Businesses facing a dearth of workers
The private sector is calling on the government to speed up allowing the entry of vaccinated migrant workers under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to be signed with neighbouring countries.
Tanit Sorat, vice-chairman of the Employers' Confederation of Thai Trade and Industry, said the government should allow vaccinated workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia under an MoU to enter Thailand within this month instead of December.
"Demand for foreign labour is soaring right now after the country's reopening on Nov 1," he said. "The growth of exports and imports also resulted in a drastic shortage of unskilled workers."
Mr Tanit said the joint meeting between the Labour Ministry and related agencies recently agreed to postpone the MoU for vaccinated foreign workers from the three neighbouring countries to December.
"The MoU should be signed and implemented within this month because the screening procedure for vaccinated workers takes time," he said.
According to Mr Tanit, the Employers' Confederation has proposed employers take charge of providing vaccines for foreign workers and subsidise costs incurred from quarantine measures for 14 days before they start working.
He also suggested that the government revise regulations that allow employees to change their jobs after working for only a month.
Mr Tanit said migrant workers play an important part in the economy, saying Thais are reluctant to work in some industrial sectors.
He said demand for foreign workers is likely to well exceed the estimates by the Labour Ministry which expected that Thailand needs 420,000 foreign workers.
Demand is expected to further surge next year, he predicted.
A study by the Department of Employment in May found that Thai business operators needed 256,029 workers from Myanmar, 130,138 Cambodian workers and 38,536 Lao nationals in their workplaces.
Most of the jobs are in the agriculture, livestock, construction, hospitality services and garment sectors.
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) said it expected 300,000-500,000 workers are needed after the government enforced lockdown measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The FTI is worried that migrant workers who secretly enter Thailand without taking Covid-19 tests may cause new infection clusters.