National borders are closed, orders from global buyers have declined drastically, workers are being laid off with nowhere to go, and the pandemic is surging in key industry hotspots. Issara is guiding workers, employers, and recruitment agencies through the crisis, while providing unconditional cash transfers to stranded, unemployed, and/or underemployed foreign migrant workers.
Issara Institute teams in Southeast Asia are currently not conducting in-person outreach to workers and business, and in-person meetings and events are all being conducted online. The safety of our team and communities is paramount, and our teams are generally working from home. The good news is that foreign migrant workers and Thai suppliers are online too, so we are able to continue to support workers, businesses, worker voice, and remediation of worker-reported issues.
Our worker voice channels remain as active as ever, and we are sharing valuable information on the pandemic and personal and community safety over these channels on a daily basis, reaching over 200,000 workers. We are ensuring that valuable information is available to Burmese, Khmer, and Thai workers in their native languages, and are working 24/7 to answer questions and assist (as always). Many workers are scared, lack access to credible information, and many are seeking to return home or remain safe in this uncertain period. We’ll be coming out with new, informative videos for migrant workers every few days, responding to the most urgent questions being raised through our worker voice channels.
Our teams are also meeting virtually with Thai, Malaysian, and Myanmar businesses to discuss issues and grievances raised over worker voice channels, and to maintain momentum on efforts to improve the recruitment and employment of foreign migrant workers. We are directly supporting businesses with policy advice and quick translation of key communiques to their workers on hygiene, sick leave, and other benefits. This is a very trying time for many supplier and recruitment agency businesses, as well as their customers, and we are committed to helping them navigate it.
We are also distributing unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) to workers who have been exploited or stranded, or who face severe underemployment, as a result of COVID-19. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to contribute to the fund - all money goes straight into the hands of exploited and vulnerable workers!
Key COVID-related updates and reports are below: