BANGKOK — Since she was 21, Mimi had been a glamorous air hostess at an airline’s international base in Hong Kong. But her 25-year career ended abruptly with the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“Everything’s affected, my life, my career. Now I live with nothing, no benefits,” Mimi, 46, said.
She is among the three million of Thais, at least, that have lost their jobs since the coronavirus struck in January, while others who are still employed are also afraid of joining those ranks. A YouGov poll found that a fourth of Thais surveyed hold that fear, due to the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The survey, conducted between Sept. 21 and 29 on 1,479 Thais, found that 24 percent of Thais felt insecure about their employment, compared to 4 percent in pre-COVID.
Mimi had been at United Airlines’ Hong Kong base with around 40 other Thais. All of them no longer have the jobs – the U.S. airline on Thursday shut down their international bases in Hong Kong, Narita, and Frankfurt.
“I have friends there who are over 50 and and have to go to treatment for cancer. Their treatment costing millions a year had been covered by United, but now, they don’t have insurance,” Mimi said, “Their next steps will be difficult because Thai insurance won’t cover it for them.”
Tan, a ground staff member at a different airline, has been “very stressed” because she has just been told to leave her job at the end of October just a few days ago. She had taken a 25 percent pay cut for six months.
“My colleagues are even more stressed, because many of them just bought a house or car at the end of the last year and have payments,” Tan, 31, said. “I never thought I would face this kind of problem.”
The YouGov survey found that almost half of interviewees (45 percent) would be willing to take a pay cut up to 20 percent, while 22 percent would take a pay cut up to 40 percent. Women were also more likely to take a pay cut than men (26 percent vs. 19 percent).
High-income earners, or those who earn more than 45,000 per month per household, were more likely to feel secure (57 percent) versus low-income earners earning less than 15,000 baht per month per household (37 percent).
Two-thirds (67 percent) said it would be difficult to find a new job with similar pay if they lost their jobs tomorrow. A third (33 percent) answered that they think they would be able to find a new job within three months.
The poll by YouGov, a UK-based market research company, was conducted, and was nationally weighted by age, gender, and income. The survey has an error margin of 3 percent.