Private companies should take necessary steps to help their employees cope with the impact of the political turmoil and the global financial crises, Paiboon Wattanasiritham, former deputy prime minister in the Surayud Chulanont government, said.
Firms could reduce working hours instead of outright lay-offs, he said at the roundtable discussion hosted by the National Economic and Social Advisory Council, an independent consulting body under the umbrella of the Constitution.
Paiboon said several hotels had retained their staff after they were hard hit by the 1997 financial crisis. Those hotels implemented many innovative business solutions, such as using a part of their land for organic farming, he said.
Communities, such as the subdistricts, should also care for those in need of help, he said. Since community knows best about the welfare of its members, cooperation among them would be effective.
Tackling the issue at a level of companies and community would be more effective than at a government level, he said.
He suggested that the government should act as a facilitator, providing necessary support to firms and communities.
"The current crisis is our own and it is a mega-crisis caused by the political turmoil," he said. Compassion and care for each other should be values people should uphold, he added.
Lium Boonchanta, a community leader, said the key to success is how to implement knowledge or ideas at the community level.
Narong Phetprasert, a political economist at Chulalongkorn University was pessimistic about the capacity of the farming sector to absorb unemployed workers from non-farm sectors. He said the situation now is different from the 1997 crisis when the farm sector acted as a cushion for a million unemployed people. The price of farm products are on a declining trend at present.
He predicted that unemployment next year could be more than one million as estimated by business leaders. He criticised government moves to allocate more money to rural areas, saying more poor people live in urban areas than in the villages.
Khunying Dhipavadee Meksawan said she was concerned that women would be the first to be laid off by employers. Moreover, crime against women may rise, she added.