A group of nightlife workers gathered with high heels and bikinis in front of the Government House today, June 29th, to seek financial aid from the government as their workplaces have been ordered closed for almost three months straight due to the Covid-19 outbreak with little to no financial aid for the sector according to them.
Representatives from the “Empower Foundation”, along with social activists, bar owners, and nightlife workers, staged a peaceful rally to demand 5,000-baht monthly compensation from the government after their workplaces, including entertainment venues, massage parlors, gogos, nightclubs, bars, and karaoke shops, were ordered closed without assistance to prevent the spread of Covid-19, leaving them jobless. Additionally, according to the group, there had been little to no financial aid given to the sector by the government and no sign of releasing restrictions anytime soon.
Empower Foundation representatives claimed that the sector was a significant and popular part of the tourism industry and also represented tens of thousands of informal workers who had no aid and no job. They claimed that although construction workers and restaurant workers were getting aid and sympathy from the government that they had not, despite suffering a longer closure period and less financial aid than any other sector.
The proposal was submitted to Move Forward Party MP Thanyawat Kamolwongwat as a spokesperson for the House of Parliament’s committee for children, women, elderly persons, disabled persons, ethnic groups, and LGBT. The Empower Foundation insisted that government financial aid should be offered until their business is allowed to resume and claimed that regardless if certain people wanted to admit it that the nightlife and entertainment industry was a significant financial and tourism driver for the country and its closure had devastated several popular holiday destinations including Pattaya and Phuket.
LGBT+ activist Sirisak Chaithet said that when entertainment venues and massage parlors were ordered to close, every employee has had to financially sustain themselves for nearly 16 months. They had to pay their expenses with their savings as the sector is mostly comprised of freelance workers. Sirisak stated the sector had seen little to no financial assistance from the government despite being closed for almost 9 of the last 16 months and suffering longer closures than any other.
“We often pay taxes in a variety of ways, including sales taxes on our personal purchases or various taxes required for business owners. The taxes we paid are for the salaries of the MPs and the members of the government. But when it comes to our crisis, why were our voices not heard?” He stated.
Sirikanya Tansakul, Move Forward Party MP, added that the group of nightlife workers should not only be financially supported by the government but should also be listed and protected as legal workers, just like other salaried employees.
“The 5,000-baht monthly handouts are only a short-term solution. As long as these people do not have legal status, they will not receive any protection. They are not even eligible to apply and list in Article 40 of Thailand’s social security. They are as if non-existent workers in the legal system of this country.”
Photo Courtesy: Naewna
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