On October 17, 2022, the Labour Minister, Mr. Suchart Chomklin, reported that today, he had assigned the Assistant to the Labour Minister, Mr. Surachai Chaitrakulthong, to represent the Ministry of Labour in negotiating with a group of representatives from companies, employers and coordinators in Thailand. The Permanent Secretary of Labour, Mr. Boonchob Suttamanaswong, the Department of Employment’s Director-General, Mr. Pairoj Chotiksetian, the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare’s Director-General, Mr. Niyom Songkaew, and representatives from Friends Berries Co., Ltd., Great Berry Co., Ltd., and Phoenix Mix Co., Ltd., attended the negotiations at the Prasong Rananant meeting room, 5th floor, Ministry of Labour. Mr. Suchart said that the meeting today started with the Ministry of Labour and the representatives from the three companies, which are companies that comply with the measures and deployment of Thai workers to collect wild fruits, and have never experienced complaints from workers previously. The parties care about the image of deploying Thai job seekers abroad and joined the negotiations to find ways to prevent problems and exchange work practices that will satisfy all parties. The discussion found that workers whose income was below the threshold were mostly new workers who had never worked in wild fruit picking. The problems that arose were caused by communication between employers/coordinators, the workers, and management, in which companies that experience problems are only a minority.
“I understand the coordinators and job seekers looking for work abroad to earn an income. I have instructed the Department of Employment and the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare to check the employment contracts to provide comprehensive care for job seekers. Even if the workers are new and inexperienced, who will go through trial and error, they should not go to work to put them into debt,” said the Labour Minister.
Assistant to the Labour Minister, Mr. Surachai Chaitrakulthong, said that the Labour Minister, Mr. Suchart Chomklin cares about all Thai workers like family. The Department of Employment has coordinated with BAAC to use the money that the coordinating company has put as collateral to help the berry pickers from Finland whose income does not meet the criteria, according to the evidence. The funds will be transferred to the workers’ account within this week. In addition, the Department of Employment and the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare will jointly carefully review next year’s contract to cover sick workers or medical care costs.
Mr. Surachai continued that in the 2022 season, 3,622 workers traveled to Finland to pick wild fruits, comprising 2,301 returning workers. Forty workers earned less than 30,240 Baht or 1.74 percent. There were 1,361 new workers, where 176 earned less than 30,240 Baht, representing 12.93 percent. In addition, the Department of Employment surveyed the income after expenses. It found that 10.38 percent of workers received an income after expenses of 100,000 Baht or more, 40.56 percent received 50,001 – 99,999 Baht after expenses, 45.81 percent received 30,000 – 50,000 Baht after expenses, and 3.25 percent received less than 30,000 Baht after expenses.
Mr. Rattathamanoon Meerahannok, a representative of Friends Berries Co., Ltd., said that he had started as a wild fruit picker before becoming an entrepreneur. He said that most problems arise from inadequate communication between employers/coordinators and the workers collecting wild fruits. The company has sent 85 staff and 1,800 job seekers in the past year without any problems or complaints. From experience, the workers will collect wild fruit in groups of 6-7 people, with returning workers who know the forest well and have the expertise as group leaders. There should be 4 -5 experienced workers in one group to advise and care for the new workers. In addition, each year, the outputs are not the same. The Swedish and Finnish wild fruit picking is a natural fruit-picking process. Different camps and zones may have different produce. Today, he was pleased with the Ministry of Labour’s initiative to come together to find a solution and exchange knowledge.
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