Recovery plan must aid contract workers

Recovery plan must aid contract workers

A job seeker, left, files her application at the Employment Department in Bangkok in April. Arnun Chonmahatrakool
A job seeker, left, files her application at the Employment Department in Bangkok in April. Arnun Chonmahatrakool

The government should include 24 million informal workers in its 400 billion baht economic recovery plan for alleviating the economic impact of Covid-19, a recent seminar was told.

Conducted online, the seminar on the impact of Covid-19 on informal workers was organised by Wichaya Komin, a social researcher with Chulalongkorn University.

Daracha Tancharoen, whose title was not provided, said informal workers have been included in a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as one of five vulnerable groups of workers.

The Labour Ministry has supported this group to enhance their work capacity, encourage them to help each other, and set up a fund offering capital to them, Ms Wichaya said.

Of the almost 24 million informal workers, about 10 million are labourers in the farming sector, she added.

Their average age is 50 and they have average work experience of less than 10 years.

More than 60% of their earnings is typically spent on keeping their families of between four to five members fed; however, the Covid-19 outbreak has caused them to lose 80% to 96% of their usual income.

These workers are currently receiving some help from the government, Ms Wichaya said.

"As many companies have laid off workers [due to the impact of the outbreak], many formal workers have now become informal workers," she added.

In the short term, these workers will need help paying off motorcycle taxis and taxi cabs which they need in the course of their work.

Many have used up their savings and are earning no money, leading some to incur new debts through borrowing to pay for food and rent, said Phunsap Suanmuang, of the Foundation for Labour and Employment Promotion.

They should be included in the government's 400 billion baht economic recovery plan, she added.

Manop Chophaka, president of an informal worker's association, said most informal workers will need capital to resume work after the outbreak subsides; however, due to their poor access to loans offered by commercial banks, they need help from the government.

Training should help these workers acquire new knowledge and skills so they will have more choices in the labour market, he added.

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