Labour rights advocates have urged the authorities to vaccinate migrant domestic helpers to protect households against Covid-19.
Adisorn Kerdmongkol, a member of the Migrant Network Group (MNG), told an online discussion organised by the House committee on labour on Monday that more than 100,000 migrant workers are registered as domestic helpers, but many contracted the virus from their employers only to find it used as grounds for their dismissal.
Once sacked, domestic helpers are in a difficult situation as there are few jobs for maids currently.
The helpers need to be inoculated urgently as they often spend a great deal of time at home working closely with families including the elderly and the bed-ridden, making both the families and themselves vulnerable to infection, argued Mr Adisorn. "We're rushing to roll out vaccines for target groups such as the elderly. Yet, we have no policy to take care of their helpers who work in close contact with them," he said.
The Social Security Office has arranged for social security subscribers to be vaccinated. However, the domestic helpers, including those who are migrant workers, can opt out of the programme.
Zani, also a Myanmar migrant labour welfare advocate, told the forum that most migrant workers have not received Covid-19 jabs but the few prospective employers actively looking for hired help often demand proof of vaccination or vaccination appointments.
Mr Adisorn added that getting access to the vaccine is no easy task for migrant workers even if they have the money to pay.
The Labour Ministry was urged to negotiate with the agency in charge of allocating vaccines to provide inoculation for all vulnerable labour groups.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said vaccines have been set aside for those employed under Section 33 of the Social Security Act, which covers both Thai and foreign workers. However, it's the Public Health Ministry, not the Labour Ministry, which is responsible for distribution.