Covid-19 aid reaches 8,000 who lost jobs
Labour groups rap shifting of burden
About 8,000 people who have lost their jobs or were suspended from work due to the Covid-19 outbreak on Monday received their first compensation payment from the Social Security Office (SSO).
Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul said compensation payments can now be made following the announcement of a ministerial regulation concerning the impact of Covid-19 on workers insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act.
He said that while 11 million workers are likely to be affected by the outbreak, the exact number of people who need help should become clearer in a few weeks.
The compensation rate for formal workers amounts to 62% of their daily wage and the maximum compensation period is capped at 90 days.
Thotsaphon Kritwongwiman, secretary-general of the SSO, on Monday said about 800,000 formal workers had applied for compensation and 50% have been vetted and were considered qualified. He said the SSO is waiting for confirmation from the employers of other applicants, adding payment will be made as soon as verification is completed.
Meanwhile, Suchart Thailuan, president of the National Congress of Thai Labour, lashed out at the government for making the SSO shoulder the compensation payment. He said that labour leaders disagreed with making the SSF dole out the compensation when businesses were closed on government orders.
"I don't think this is a 'force majeure'. The labour protection law requires that employers pay 75% of salary to workers if they suspend their business. The rate offered by the SSF is only 62%," he said.
He was referring to a clause in the labour protection law, which states that when a firm must temporarily suspend part or all of its business operations because of financial hardship, it must pay employees 75% of their usual daily wages during this period.
Mr Suchart said labour leaders are also concerned that the measure will affect the stability of the Social Security Fund.
He also said labour organisations have agreed to cancel Labour Day events on May 1 due to the pandemic. He said the decision had been reached at a meeting of 15 labour councils, the State Enterprises Workers' Relations Confederation and representatives of informal workers.
A budget of 4.9 million baht allocated by the government to organise the activity will be returned to the government to fight the outbreak, he said. But Mr Suchart said labour rights advocates will submit proposals to the government which are aimed at improving their quality of life.
The proposals include calls for the government to ratify ILO Conventions No.87 and No.98, which involve the freedom of association, collective bargaining and greater representation.