Public Health Volunteers Get Less Than Half the Bonus Promised but Call Off Protest

Health Volunteers

Public health volunteers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic decided against going ahead with a protest even though they are getting less than half the bonus payment promised by the government.

The frontline volunteers were credited with working hard on the ground to contain the virus outbreak.

The government earlier pledged to give them a 500-baht monthly bonus for 19 months on top of the 1,000-baht payments public health volunteers already receive.

The 19-month bonus would have accounted for last March to September next year. However, the cabinet on Wednesday decided to cut the bonus pay to seven months, according to deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.

The bonus will be paid over a period from March through to September.

The months from March to June will be offered in a lump sum of 2,000 baht and the rest on a monthly basis.

Ms Traisuree said the bonus payments will be tapped from a 45-billion-baht fund being disbursed as part of relief loans the government have taken out to ease the economic impact of the pandemic.

She said Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told the cabinet the government would not renege on its 19-month bonus promise, saying the seven months of pay was only the first portion approved.

The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) had warned that if the government went ahead with the 19-month bonus, the expenditure would be 6.9 billion baht over-budget, it said.

On Wednesday, Jamras Kamrod, chairman of the health volunteers association of Thailand, said the volunteers did not object and would not protest.

He said the volunteers never had the bonus before and that the payment came as an “extra” financial reward for their dedication shown during the battle against the coronavirus disease.