FTI urges swifter state action on labour amid shortage

FTI urges swifter state action on labour amid shortage

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is demanding a greater effort to deal with the severe shortage of 700,000 workers, even as the government is working to bring in migrant workers from neighbouring countries.

Last month the federation called on authorities to speed up the signing of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with officials in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to import labour, said Suchart Chantaranakaracha, the FTI’s vice-chairman for labour affairs.

“We want the government to urgently solve the labour shortage because the problem is threatening to affect the Thai economic recovery,” he said.

The government has tried to import workers from the three countries, but it needs to do more, said Mr Suchart. The number of workers from Myanmar, usually a major source of foreign labour in Thailand, is lower than the tally from Laos and Cambodia.

The FTI suggested the Thai labour minister talk directly with labour ministers of the three countries to speed up the MoU signing process.

“The Thai minister should hold talks with the minister of labour in Myanmar because at this level decisions will be made faster than those in official-to-official meetings,” he said.

The Thai government should also facilitate the labour import process by reducing unnecessary costs and regulations, said Mr Suchart.

He said officials can screen out migrant workers infected with Covid-19 by using rapid antigen test kits rather than PCR tests, and should apply the Test & Go scheme without quarantine on arrival for a period of 7-14 days.

Mr Suchart also asked the government to consider granting amnesty to migrant workers who entered Thailand illegally and to their employers who violated labour laws, as this allows easier regulation of the workers.

“The method can reduce the number of illegal migrant workers and may help Thailand better deal with this chronic problem,” he said.

Thailand needs workers to serve in factories and businesses related to tourism and services. The growing export sector increased demand for labour.

There were more than 2 million migrant workers in Thailand, but 500,000-600,000 returned to their countries after the pandemic hit in early 2020, as many business activities were suspended, causing them to lose their jobs. Most have still not returned to Thailand.