One Million Thai Workers Risk Losing Jobs in 2009

Exports orders from its main markets -- the U.S., Europe and Japan --have dropped significantly in all industries.

Because of a sharp fall in export orders,one million Thai workers are at risk of losing their jobs next year, the Federation of Thai Industries said Oct. 29.

The federation's deputy chairman, Thaveekij Jaturajarernkul, blamed the slowdown in global economic growth for the bleak forecast, which he said could bring troubles worse than the 1997 Asian financial crisis. "Exports orders from our main markets -- the U.S., Europe and Japan -- have dropped significantly in all industries. That will affect our labor employment and we estimate that next year around one million workers may lose their jobs," Thaveekij said.

"If another economic crisis hits Thailand this time it's going to be far worse than in 1997 because it will affect every sector," he added.

Between mid-September and earlier this month, Thai export orders from the top three markets dropped by an average of 30%-40% across all industries. The figure was higher still for the luxury goods sector, Thaveekij said.

He said Thailand currently has about six million workers in the manufacturing sector, two million workers in small and medium-sized enterprises and 1.2 million workers in the service and logistics sector. "Besides, around 700,000 students from colleges and vocational schools are expected to graduate and seek employment next year. They will be affected, too," Thaveekij said.

He said some businesses had recently cut down their employee workdays from six to five days per week, while others had put a freeze on overtime. "This quarter we should have received orders for the first two months of next year. But so far we have fewer orders than usual and some orders cancelled," Thaveekij said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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