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Protests

Skipping work not an option for some

Blockade makes life difficult for many, but some also finding opportunities

Many Commuters in Bangkok are struggling to find their way to work, no matter what protest is going on.

"I can't skip work. If I don't report to work, I won't get my wages," a 51-year-old office cleaner said yesterday, as she watched the Bangkok shutdown spread into further areas across the capital.

The woman's workplace was located at Asoke Intersection, but it was full of anti-government demonstrators as of press time.

The office cleaner learnt that she may not be able to get a bus to and from the intersection, but she had no plans to stop coming to work.

"No matter how difficult it is to get here, I will definitely come to work," she said. However, she ruled out the option of catching a ride on the BTS Skytrain, saying the service was too expensive for a low-income earner like her.

She said a BTS ride from On Nut to Asoke could cost her Bt30 each way and she earned just Bt300 a day.

"I can't afford the transport cost of Bt60 a day because I have to save my wages for food and other expenses," she explained.

The woman planned to stick to bus rides and walking. "I can walk till I find a bus," she said.

A security guard working in the same area said he could not plan in advance how he would commute while the shutdown was on. "But what I know is I have to come to work every day," the 50-year-old said.

A 40-year-old worker at a laundry shop looked on as the crowd grew bigger at Asoke. "If I can't go home, I will sleep here," he said.

A number of office workers paid monthly wages said they would also continue to come to work despite the shutdown.

"I drive to work," Supen Pringkratoke said yesterday.

Asked what she would do now that Asoke was blocked, she said, "I may drive to a nearby location where I can park my car. Then, I can get a motorcycle taxi and walk to my office."

Meanwhile, motorcycle taxi driver Laoyia sae Weu said he was doing okay as he had got more passengers than normal because many demonstrators wanted a ride.

Elsewhere, a health official, aged 46, said she was able to get to her workplace in Nonthaburi faster yesterday, as the shutdown eased traffic congestion in many areas because a number of people did not go to work. Speaking on condition of anonymity, this official admitted, "Actually, I did not want to work . But when I saw my friends coming to work, I decided to report to work too."

She was quick to add that she had no plan to join the protest rather than going to work. "I don't like both sides in the ongoing political conflict. I think it would be better for the country if they could talk together but now they don't," she said.


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