Extension granted to migrant workforce
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Extension granted to migrant workforce

Mr Poj says the cabinet's approval to extend the contracts of migrant workers is expected to reduce labour shortages. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Mr Poj says the cabinet's approval to extend the contracts of migrant workers is expected to reduce labour shortages. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Concern over a domestic labour shortage has eased after the cabinet on Tuesday approved an extension to employment contracts that allow more than 200,000 migrant workers to keep their jobs.

Poj Aramwattananont, vice-chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and president of the Labour and Skill Development Committee, said the cabinet's decision addresses management issues related to foreign workers and alleviates the worker shortage, particularly in industries that require intensive labour or include dangerous, dirty or difficult jobs.

The move eases financial pressure on employers and employees, he said.

"The economy is recovering as the country opened up following the pandemic. The clear engine driving the economy is labour, and development of human capital is important at all levels," said Mr Poj.

"Thailand is facing structural problems, with severe shortages in both the quantity and quality of labour, especially in the tourism, service, construction and real estate, food processing and small business sectors. These sectors have a high demand for a large number of workers to support the country's economic growth.

"The chamber and the Federation of Thai Industries [FTI], together with the Labour Ministry and the Department of Employment, have joined forces to accelerate the resolution through a memorandum of understanding [MoU]."

Based on discussions held with the chamber and the FTI, he said the cabinet approved a Labour Ministry proposal on the management of foreign workers in two groups: an MoU on foreign workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar; and an agreement on foreign workers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The approval was based on a cabinet resolution from July 5, 2022 and another dated Feb 7, 2023.

As a result, these workers can continue to work in Thailand until July 2023.

According to government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri, the move is intended to reinforce economic security.

The extension applies to migrant workers who arrived under labour- related MoUs signed by governments.

The employment period lasts up to four years and varies depending on the type of worker. The extension expires on July 31, said Mr Anucha.

The contract extension only lasts as long as the current government remains in its caretaker capacity.

The measure is subject to review once a new administration is formed.

The cabinet previously rejected the ministry's request for an extension, fearing it would create a burden of responsibility for the new government, which should be left to decide on the matter.

The cabinet changed its mind and approved the extension as the lingering uncertainty over the government's formation threatens to leave a huge labour vacuum, said Mr Anucha.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam, without the extension the migrant workers would have had to return home and wait until a new government took power before they could come back to resume their employment in Thailand.

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