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Why Is Thailand Facing A Migrant Labour Shortage



Labour Shortage

A huge chunk of the labour force of Thailand was migrant workers. To be specific, 10% of the labour force of Thailand before the pandemic hit the world was 10%. The migrant workers contributed almost 5% of the GDP of the country as per the information available from the International Labour Organization. Most of the migrant labourers were from Myanmar. When Thailand was hit with the pandemic, many migrant workers were forced to go back home. Now that the pandemic has slowed down, many of these migrant workers are trying to come back to Thailand but are unable to do so due to strict border restrictions which were enforced to fight the deadly virus.

The Covid pandemic contracted the economy of the country and in the aftermath, the country is facing a labour shortage. A lot of the migrant workers are engaged in the unorganized sector and the official unemployment data that includes these migrant workers are not yet unavailable but the situation is alarming for sure. The growing unemployment rate in Thailand is also visible in the form of increased suicide rates in the country which was already high in comparison to other Southeast Asian countries.

Migrant Shortage In Thailand

In March 2020, the government of Thailand suspended the import of migrant workers to prevent the spread of Covid. The impact of it resulted in labour shortage for many industries. The migrant workers that went back to their home country created a vacancy of more than 400,000 jobs and therefore, now in 2021, when the situation is better, more than 400,000 migrant workers are needed to gain control of the economy of the country. More than 100,000 Thais have applied for the jobs in the vacancies created by the lack of migrant workers but still, there is a huge gap that is required to fill.

How The Migrant Shortage Will Be Fixed?

To fix the situation of migration shortage in the country, the Department of Employment will be conducting job opportunities for the people who are seeking jobs. The interview for the recruitment will most probably take place online. In addition to that, the government is also working to make it easier for migrant workers to return to work.

In addition to that, the government of Thailand has dedicated itself to accepting migrant workers from Myanmar. However, an MoU needs to be agreed upon for the same. To proceed with the acceptance of migrant workers, it is decided that the migrant workers will be divided into three categories. The first group comprises the green group and it includes the migrant workers who have been doubly vaccinated and a time span of one month has passed. The second category includes the yellow group that includes the migrant workers who have received only one dose of the vaccine. The last group or the red group includes the migrant workers who have not received any Covid vaccine. For the red group, the employers of the migrant workers are required to bear the expense of both their medical exams and quarantining.

The scenario is even problematic in Myanmar which is creating problems for Thailand. For instance, in Myanmar, only the rich are successfully getting vaccinated without trouble. The financial conditions of the migrant workers need to be considered while deciding the future steps. In India, the government is organising Lottery Sambad and Dhankesari to provide financial assistance to the needy and similar steps need to be taken in Myanmar and Thailand too. In addition to that, the application processes required for MoU are only available in a few big cities. This is a problem for the migrant workers as they mostly come from rural backgrounds. The few migrant workers who are able to make it to the big cities, come under financial bondage while bearing the cost of living waiting for the renewal process to be completed and a never-ending loop is created.

It is high time that the governments of both Thailand and Myanmar talk to each other to improve the conditions of the migrant workers. Also, it is important to conduct a proper vaccination drive to make it easier for the migrant workers to travel and save them from the virus. The current condition of migrant workers is grave. They are not only prone to health risks but also to mental and physical violence and harassment. The language barriers which are also present make it tougher for them to seek help. The conditions of the migrant workers need to be urgently acknowledged and proper measures need to be taken to ensure that they can safely return to their working conditions.



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