On December 9, 2020, at 10.00 hours, Labour Minister Mr. Suchart Chomklin accepted claims on the “rehabilitation of informal workers from Covid-19” from Chairman of the Informal Workers’ Federation (Thailand) Mr. Somkid Duangnoen and 300 people from informal worker networks. The occasion took place at the Labour Relations Committee Room, ground floor, Ministry of Labour. The Labour Minister’s Secretariat Mr. Suthep Chitvong, Advisor to the Labour Minister Mrs. Thiwalrat Angkinan, Permanent Secretary of Labour Mr. Suthi Sukosol, and the Ministry of Labour’s executives also joined the occasion. The Labour Minister said that the request was passed to the government. Prime Minister and Minister of Defense General Prayuth Chan-ocha see the importance of alleviating the suffering among workers like family. In particular, the informal worker sector, a large part of the workforce, plays an important role in driving the country’s economy. The Prime Minister has always emphasized how to get most informal workers into the system, and today, that can be done by applying informal workers as insured persons under Section 40.
As informal workers have suffered, the Labour Minister, therefore, received the letter of claims by himself. For the various claims, many matters have been done but lack public relations. Past initiatives include funding for home workers, discussions with the Bangkok Administration to return commercial space for the occupation to informal workers, employment of 2 local volunteers from the Ministry of the Interior in each sub-district, maintaining employment of workers in the system affected by Covid-19, establishing a platform to support the sale of goods and services by informal workers, and skill development for enhanced skills. The “Half Each” project is one the Prime Minister initiated for the Ministry of Finance. The Prime Minister has added a Phase 2 and added more money totaling tens of billions of Baht in cash flow, ensuring an equal and inclusive society to survive the Covid-19 crisis.
The remaining requests are in the process. Efforts include encouraging companies to access the self-employment fund to allow informal workers to access capital. The Secretariat invited representatives of the Ministry of Finance for a discussion. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labour has requested a reduction of Section 40 contributions in the social security system, assigned to the Permanent Secretary of Labour as the Chairman of the Board to consider the possibility. The Social Security Office is also studying related laws to increase insured persons’ benefits under Section 40, whereby the SSO shall set up a subcommittee to consider and discuss in detail for further conclusions.
The requests by the Informal Workers’ Confederation (Thailand) filed to the governments, businesses, and civil society to demand better informal labour policies included the following: 1) Request for the state to support a fund for independent workers and informal workers, to allow access to employment capital support. 2) Request for a review of the criteria for granting loans from the Home Worker Fund. 3) Returning commercial areas for informal workers’ occupation. 4) For government agencies and local government organizations to establish a hiring program for public services workers. 5) To provide employment insurance for informal workers for at least ten days per month with a minimum wage. 6) For the state to maintain employment in groups severely affected by Covid-19 by subsidizing wages in the form of co-payment in small enterprises (SMEs) to prevent the increase of workers converting to the informal sector. 7) For the government procurement quota to be allocated to informal workers affected by Covid-19, at a minimum rate of 30%. 8) For the budget to be allocated to informal workers to enhance their competitiveness and support investment in developing platforms to support the sale of goods and services by informal workers. 9) For all state economic stimulus measures, including the “Travelling Together” campaign and the “Half Each” project to cover the goods and services of informal workers. 10) To improve labour skills so that they can work in the new labour market after Covid-19. 11) To provide equal social protection and to survive the crisis from Covid-19, including ones that may arise in the future, and 12) To implement all proposals, there must be the participation and supervision of informal worker unions, civil society, and academic associates to operate effectively and efficiently.
Source: Ministry of Labour