Today’s (Sept 25) announcement came at a press conference held by the Phuket lifeguard Service at the Phuket Royal City Hotel in Phuket Town this afternoon (Sept 25).
Last Friday (Sept 23) The Phuket News revealed that Phuket’s lifeguards were threatening to go on strike from Oct 1 after the budget for their services was quietly cut yet again at an PPAO council meeting last month.
“September 30 is the last day of our current contract. We will not work from October 1. From that day tourists will see the sign ‘No lifeguard on duty’ on every beach in Phuket,” Phuket Lifeguard Chief Prathaiyuth Chuayuan confirmed to The Phuket News last week.
“We have decided that we can’t accept this budget, which is less than last year,” he added, explaining that the actual budget amount has been kept the same as last year at B19.8 million – but now with the expectation of lifeguards patrolling beaches for an extra two months of the year, not just during the dangerous southwest monsoon season, and with the Governor’s order to have them extend their patrols an hour later each day.
“Last year they already cut the budget by 10% on the year before and still we decided to continue to our work, but now they do this,” Mr Prathaiyuth said. (See story here.)
Speaking to The Phuket News today, Mr Prathaiyut said, “We are going on strike from Oct 1 due to the budget cuts.”
Mr Prathaiyut then went on to explain that the number of drownings occurring on Phuket’s beaches this year is less than previous years and that so far this year the number of people rescued at the beaches is 35 Thai nationals and 302 foreigners. A total figure of 337 people saved.
“Only two people have drowned within lifeguards working hours, seven have drowned outside of working hours,” he said.
“Almost all incidents occur due to people ignoring our warnings. Our staff have to explain situations to tourists, and we are not only here to save people from drowning, we also help with situations such as jellyfish,” he added.
Phuket Lifeguard Service Vice President Vitanya Chuayuan told The Phuket News, “I want everyone to be careful when they are in water. I am worried that tourists won’t enjoy their holiday if we are not on the beaches. Throughout the month of October there will still be bad weather and the waves will still be strong and hard.”