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Worker Shortages Across Asia May Lead To Big Delays In Holiday Shipping This Year

by Siddhi Ashar, Oct 28
2 minutes read

COVID-19 restrictions have caused disruptions within workforces across Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand. The manufacturing and agriculture sectors are looking at major delays leading into the holiday season.

man in blue jacket and blue denim jeans wearing gray cap

Tens of thousands of migrant workers left for their hometowns in Indonesia and Bangladesh after months of strict lockdowns.

So what?

Migrant workers were stranded across cities of Asia due to COVID-19 being unable to meet their families and sometimes forced to work despite health threats. Safety protocols, to begin with, were not up to the mark but with the added threat of the virus, factories are expected to follow stricter measures especially in countries with low vaccine coverage.

Companies are forced to consider hiring a domestic workforce but even with higher pay incentives, locals are reluctant to work in industries they consider ”dirty and dangerous”. Such perceptions only highlight the conditions migrant workers were enduring as cheap labour.

Such shortages drastically impact the supply chain but present a window of opportunity to shift away from exploitative practices. The pandemic amplified that these workforces are critical backbones of most industries. We are yet to determine the long-term impact this labour crunch will have.

Thus far, companies have adopted short-term methods that perform only as bandages to these complex problems. This includes reducing their cut from fares, driving up a few employer benefits to avoid increasing customer costs. Will sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, or delivery adopt a systemic approach for a more equitable and resilient workforce? Can new non-exploitative business models emerge as industries across the world face this supply chain crisis?



by Siddhi Ashar Spotted 29 signals

With a background in international studies and filmmaking, Siddhi works with the Futures Centre team to creatively push our current imaginaries and create more positive visions of futures rooted in equity. Her works centers around challenging common narratives and working agilely to bring forth more representative ones. Through her role at the Futures Centre, she focuses on the answering the question, how can better climate communication and visioning help stakeholders work together and act intently, empathetically and urgently?

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