Thai health volunteers to protest government proposed bonus cut


Health volunteers in Thailand are set to protest against the planned 50% cut in bonuses by the government, said a representative.

The health volunteers, who work on the coronavirus frontline, will register their complaint at a suggestion to reduce the proposed extra monthly payment from 19 to seven months by the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC).

The volunteers, dubbed the white gown warriors, will meet Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul to ask him to convey their concern to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

“The NESDC should have consulted us first so that it would understand what health volunteers have done to put COVID-19 under control, and what we have sacrificed,” Health volunteer leader Chamras Khamrod said.

Mr. Anutin, who is a deputy prime minister, has proposed to augment the 1,000 baht monthly payment to all health volunteers with an extra 500 baht for 19 months as a reward for their successful containment of the pandemic in the country.

The money would come from the Public Health Ministry’s share of the 1.9-trillion-baht financial relief package to mitigate the virus impact.

The NESDC reviewed the proposal and instead favoured additional payments for only seven months. The final call will be made by the government as it still needs cabinet approval.

“We will not complain if the final decision is seven months because it is volunteer work. We will only be disappointed,” said Mr. Chamras, who is a volunteer in Chachoengsao.

Thailand has about 1 million health volunteers in all villages across the country, each receiving 1,000 baht a month.

They work on the frontlines to protect their villages from COVID-19, and are regarded as an at-risk group due to their close contact with patients.

Amarin Nimnuan, a volunteer in Chon Buri representing the central region, said health volunteers will continue to work regardless of the final decision and called for understanding of the situation from the state planning agency.

“If there are new cases, we will be the first ones to be infected. NESDC officials who work in their air-conditioned rooms should understand this,” he was reported as saying on the health volunteer Facebook page.

Mr. Anutin on Saturday opposed the NESDC’s proposed bonus cut, and said all volunteers deserve rewards due to their dangerous jobs. (Source: Bangkok Post)