With more than 17,000 jobs having been lost in February so far, making 26,000 this year with another 132,000 factory jobs already scheduled to be lost, it is clear that Thailand is facing a severe economic crisis. Total job losses will increase as suppliers and other stakeholders suffer when these factories contract or close down. As I have written before, Thailand is particularly vulnerable to economic crisis because of its openness to the world and its reliance on exports and tourism.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has outlined the principal problems: “Of concern for countries were sectors dependent on exports and remittances and the knock on effect of decline to other economic sectors and to the most vulnerable and poorest. Potential loss of jobs and threats to decent work affecting many millions in the region was the central preoccupation of forum participants. Capacity to address this through stimulus packages was particularly worrying in countries with limited fiscal space or reserves to call upon.”
Some urgent policy areas were also identified:
§ Protecting and supporting decent jobs;
§ Collective bargaining and social dialogue particularly in negotiating flexible hours, wages, temporary lay-offs and severance packages;
§ Rolling out quickly infrastructure and labour-intensive public works projects, to keep men and women in work, particularly those retrenched;
§ Enterprise support measures including access to credit to focus particularly on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs.
§ Targeting support to specific sectors such as the rural and agricultural economy, and for vulnerable groups of workers – international and internal migrants, informal sector workers, women and young people;
§ Social security and social protection systems to be expanded to support vulnerable groups and increase disposable income levels;
§ International and regional support to include funding for developing countries and easing of conditionality in funding from international financial institutions:
The government has, to date, organized some job preservation schemes and suggested that support for SMEs and entrepreneurs will be forthcoming at some stage. A lot of money is simply being wasted for what appear to be political reasons. Few governments around the world inspire much confidence in their ability to deal with the crisis at the moment, so at least the quisling is not alone in that regard.