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Jobs of all kinds are under pressure in the economic crisis

Phuket Cutbacks Coming, Union Makes Plans

Monday, November 24, 2008
Phuket's Economy

THE FIRST job layoffs on Phuket can be expected before the end of December, a senior union labor leader says.

Vijit Dasantad, President of the Phuket Federation of Hotels and Service Labor, says he believes some island workers will be told they have lost their jobs next month, with more probably going in the new year.

Khun Vijit met on Friday with other senior resort union figures, government representatives from the Provincial Office of Labor and Welfare, and officials concerned about the effect of the current financial crisis on workers.

''The owners of companies are not necessarily the bad guys,'' Khun Vijit said. ''We understand the pressures that are now on all businesses.

''It will be a time for closer cooperation.''

The union has established a legal action unit to look at companies where there are layoffs, to make sure the job losses are necessary.

Greater interest is expected to be shown in union membership in the face of the coming hardship brought on by the worldwide economic crisis.

Khun Vichit said he expected to see the first layoffs on Phuket in businesses related to electronics and graphic design.

Jobs at resorts are likely to be kept as long as occupancy rates remain at 50 percent or above, he said.

Service charge bonuses would go first, and be followed later by retrenchments if there was no recovery.

The unions were preparing now to make sure people who do lose their jobs gain the full benefit of the national social security system, Khun Vichit said.

The union has about 2500 members who each pay five baht a month.

Phuketwan spoke to union representatives at three of Phuket's unionised hotels. Most resorts do not have unions.

Laguna Beach Resort, Laguna Phuket


Rooms: 268
Open: 1992
Staff: 380
Union membership: 220

Wichain Panumart, Secretary of Laguna beach Resort Labor Union, says:

The economic downturn has affected staff because previously service charges amounted to about 10,000 baht each month. Now the service bonus has dropped to between 4000 and 5000 baht. The drop came about two months ago. Occupancy in November is running at 40 to 50 percent. This compares with 80 percent around this time last year. There is no indication that staff will be laid off. Management says it will talk to the union before taking any proposed action. For December, through to January, the bookings are running at 90 to 100 percent. But the service charge is not guaranteed. The average salary at LBR is 7000 to 8000 baht per person. The main customers come from Europe, especially Germany, and Australia. In past years, about 80 percent of guests at LBR every September came from Korea but this year they amounted to just 20 percent. This was in reaction to the the political problems in Bangkok and the economy.

Amanpuri, Surin


Rooms: 40 Villas: 31
Open: 1988
Staff: 596
Union membership: 149

Anan Pengchan, President of the Amanpuri Labor Union, says:

The economic effect has not really been felt here. Nowadays, staff can get the same salary and service charge. The occupancy rate for the high season this year has been between 70-80 percent compared to 90 percent and up last year in the high season. Through the whole year, occupancy has fallen by 20 to 30 percent. Regular guests still come from the US and Scandanavia. Amanpuri pays about 6000 baht a month but the service charge is guaranteed at 7000 baht in the low season and 10,000 baht in the high season. The rate has not changed.

Le Meridien Phuket, Patong


Rooms: 470
Open: 1987
Staff: 620 (plus 116 part-time)
Union membership: About 80 percent

Nattawut Kangkrit, President of le Meridien Phuket Labor Union, says:

Staff have been retained and six new positions have just been filled. Through December and January, bookings are at 80 to 90 percent. This is good but last year was even better. Over 2008, occupancy dropped by 10 to 20 percent. Service charges have also fallen. There is no service guarantee here. Salaries average about 8000 baht. Service charges vary, depending on the number of guests.

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