Human cost of pandemic control on full display at Social Security Office

Hundreds of unemployed people gather at the Social Security Office in Sriracha, waiting to register for unemployment compensation and benefits during the economic crisis.

Thailand largely was spared by the coronavirus, but the human cost of what it took to quell the pandemic is on full display at the Social Security Office in Sriracha every day.

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About 200-300 people a day make their way to Talaythong Tower in Sriracha’s Muang District to apply for unemployment benefits or job leads. It’s more people than the staff there can handle and health protocols prevent crowding, so the jobless must take queue tickets, wait or come another day, said office Director Supaporn Uwattana.

Rain or shine, it takes almost all day for people to get a chance to register for unemployment benefits.

Supaporn said that some hotels and company staff are registering to receive unemployment compensation due to their workplaces shutting down during the COVID-19 crisis.

Beam, a hotel worker, said he lost his job at a Pattaya hotel. Pan, a receptionist at another Pattaya inn, kept her job but both hours and pay have been cut by more than half.

Pan said she used to earn up to 15,000 baht a month plus another 15,000-30,000 baht in tips. Now she earns about 5,000 baht salary and 3,000-6,000 baht in tips. Plus, she added, the hotel is still losing money and may close again. Occupancy is less than 20 percent on weekdays and 50-80 percent on weekends and holidays.

It’s not only hospitality workers waiting for help. A company employee waiting Aug. 14 said his firm closed due to the economic slowdown. He had just bought a car and has a mortgage and school tuition to pay. He said he needs at least 25,000-30,000 a month to live and now faces the prospect of pulling up roots in the East and going back upcountry.

Supaporn said the tide of people never ends. But he urged people to make an appointment before coming to the Social Security Office by calling 038-784-420-4 or 038-282-244.

The Social Security Office at the Talaythong Tower, 53 M.9 Sukhumvit Road, Tungsala, Muang Sriracha, has been kept busy since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.