The conflict in Ukraine and Thailand’s cost of living crisis – for FES


“The driving was fine during the COVID pandemic. The roads were empty, the gasoline was cheap and there was a lot of work.” Kate has been a Lalamove driver in Bangkok for the past two years. “I left my previous job in a night restaurant because, as a driver, I could work from 10am to 6pm and I’d be able to go home a couple of times a day and check on my child.”

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. To date, at least 38,000 people have died in the conflict, 14 million have been displaced and the war has cost US$350 billion in property damage. There’s no military or diplomatic solution in sight. The conflict’s economic fall-out is being felt all over the globe. Even by Kate.

“Since February, I have been working from 6am to 8pm to make the same money I made during the pandemic. With the longer hours, I can no longer check on my child and she is home alone all day.” There are several hundred thousand drivers like Kate working in Bangkok. Along with countless other workers, Kate has seen her income drop significantly in the past eight months. “I have to drive 60 km to make just THB285 (US$7.95). I make THB20,000 (US$558) a month. But out of that, I have to pay gasoline which is getting more and more expensive.”

The cost-of-living crisis has impacted Thailand’s most vulnerable workers in a myriad of ways. What can be done to help them was the topic of a public forum organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Thailand Office and the Thai Labor Museum Foundation (TLM) on 6 November in Bangkok, attended by trade unionists, academics and representatives of Thailand’s political parties.

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