JELI’s Newsletter April 2023

April has passed – a month known for having one of the longest holiday streaks in a year in which many people tried to make the most out of. As for the labor-related issues, there are two interesting topics to discuss.

  1. Grab riders announced a halt to their services in several areas to protest the reduced fare per trip, which has dropped to 28 baht.
  2. The University of Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting revealed the results of a survey on the status of Thai workers earning less than 15,000 baht per month. It was found that these households have accumulated debts of up to 270,000 baht each, due to the increasing burden of living expenses. This is considered the highest debt expansion in 13 years.

As for JELI, in April, the organization joined a joint civil society statement addressed to the Thai government regarding the forced repatriation of refugees from Myanmar, potentially leading them to their deaths. This follows the Thai government’s deportation order of three Myanmar nationals who had spoken out against the coup in their country, resulting in them being sent back and put in custody under the control of the Myanmar military junta. This action violates international human rights principles and domestic Thai laws. The statement outlines five demands, calling on the Thai government to take responsibility for the events that have occurred.

In part of content publications, JELI’s representative Dr. Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn, Director, and Mr. Kevin Lin, Managing Editor of the Asian Labour Review, have collaborated to develop a podcast series called “Continent of Resistance” showcasing various aspects of labor rights and social movements, with new content updated every month.

Lastly, for the events that JELI will be organizing in May, there will be two closed events (invitation-only): The first event, on May 11th, is a seminar, with the warm support from the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) as a co-host organization. Key objectives, in addition to being a forum for presenting an overview of labor rights movements in both Asia and Thailand, are to provide a platform for discussion and knowledge exchange between labor representatives and experts.

On May 12th, JELI will be hosting an event called “Capacity Building Training to Begin Organizing Gig and Migrant Workers,” which aims to provide knowledge to labor representatives from various areas. The event will focus on enhancing skills and tools to workers that would help them to effectively organize groups’ movements as well as to form a collaborative action plan. The workshop will also offer in-depth information on how to improve the efficiency for advocacy work and campaigns on labor rights.

Important News

Famous Ride-Hailing / Delivery Platform (Grab) Faces Strike as Drivers Protest Approximately 30% Pay Cut

April 3, 2023 – Grab riders stage a strike following an approximately 30% pay cut, dropping their earnings from 40 THB to 28 THB per ride. Several rider representative pages on social media have posted notifications, warning customers that they may face difficulties in placing food orders due to the reduced number of drivers, as the pay is no longer commensurate with their costs.

Credit: ข่าวช่องวัน

Household Debt Soars to 270,000 THB per Household, Highest in 13 Years

April 27, 2023 – The University of Thai Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Economic and Business Forecasting reveals a survey on the status of Thai labor, focusing on those earning less than 15,000 THB. The majority of workers still face issues with insufficient income to cover expenses due to high living costs, resulting in additional borrowing to pay off debts. Consequently, accumulated debt has grown, and this year, Thai laborers’ household debt burden has expanded by 25.05%, reaching a value of over 270,000 THB per household, the highest in 13 years.

The survey also found that workers are increasingly planning outdoor activities, as the COVID-19 situation eases and the economy begins to recover. This leads to an expected average expenditure of 2,500 THB per person during this year’s Labor Day, amounting to a total of over 2,067 million THB in circulation.

As for what workers expect from the new government, they want increased welfare, economic revitalization to create local jobs, monitoring of product prices and living costs, as well as adjusting wages to be in line with inflation and increasing expenses.

Credit: โมโน บรอดคาซท์ (MONO29 – News)

Public Statement

JELI Joins Civil Society Statement to the Thai Government Regarding the Forced Repatriation of Refugees from Myanmar Resulting in Deaths

On April 5, 2023, several Myanmar news outlets reported that the Thai Immigration Police apprehended three members of the People Defense Force (PDF), who opposed the Myanmar military coup. The three individuals traveled to Mae Sot for medical treatment. After their arrest, they were repatriated to Myanmar under the control of the military junta. This situation poses significant risks and potential danger to their lives, while also violating human rights principles and laws both within Thailand and internationally.

The Just Economy and Labor Institute, along with several other civil society organizations, issued a statement with five demands and accusations directed at the Thai government and related agencies. The main points include: urging the Thai government to comply with the Prevention and Suppression of Torture and Enforced Disappearance Act B.E. 2022 – to not repatriate individuals if there is credible reason to believe they will face danger, reaffirming that Thailand must respect the principle of non-refoulement (prohibition of forced return to face danger), demanding a prompt investigation into the alleged forced repatriation to determine whether it constitutes a violation of domestic law and international obligations. If it is found that the actions violate the law, strict penalties must be imposed.

Read the statement in Thai

Medias and Publications

“Continent of Resistance” Podcast: Exploring Labor Issues in Thailand and Asia, a Collaborative Project by JELI and the Asian Labour Review (ALR)

Continent of Resistance is a collaboration between Kevin Lin, the Managing Editor of the Asian Labour Review, and Dr. Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn, the Managing Director of JELI. The podcast presents discussions on labor issues, strategies to empower labor rights movements in Asia, and facilitates the exchange of knowledge from grassroots organizers and researchers from various countries. It also includes highlights of noteworthy labor news that deserves attention.

Follow “Continent of Resistance” at

Upcoming Events This Month

Labor Rights Conferences and Workshops: Strengthening Workers’ Solidarity – Knowledge Exchange by Domestic and International Labor Experts (Private Events)

On May 11, 2023, JELI in collaboration with AMRC (Asia Monitor Resource Centre) will organize a joint conference, presenting various labor-related issues and featuring a knowledge exchange platform in which labor-rights scholars, international labor organization representatives, and workers from various professions would come to share their organizing experiences as well as in-depth information.

The main objectives of this event, in addition to providing a space for presenting an overview of labor rights movements in Asia and Thailand, are to discuss in detail on three key topics: the impacts of expanding investment in Asia on the formation and consolidation of the labor force, the various challenges faced by workers as employment contracts change, and strategies for campaigning and advocating for labor rights in various forms.

On May 12, 2023, JELI will host an event called “Capacity Building Training to Begin Organizing Gig and Migrant Workers” from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM at the Prakai Petch Conference Room, Asia Hotel, Bangkok.

For this training, the focus will be on providing knowledge and tools to empower the formation and consolidation of labor groups. The speakers include JELI officials and other labor experts, who will explain the background and objectives of the GLP-Power project, share lessons learned from observing international labor rights movements, present technological tools that would help to facilitate communication among workers – ensuring the efficiency of group formation, offer information on legal issues related to the consolidation and organization of workers’ group, and finally, equip participants with necessary advocacy skills with an emphasis on creating policy changes.