BANGKOK, 23 November 2020: Diethelm Travel Management (DTG) and Diethelm Travel Thailand (DTT) will furlough staff as offices “temporarily close” in January 2021, leaving only “a very small core team” to conduct essential business according to a memo signed by top-ranking executives.

Commenting on the 16 November memo distributed widely to social media trade groups last Friday DTGs CEO, Stephan Roemer, told . that more than 70 staff would stand down. They will accept salary cuts leaving them with THB10,000 a month (USD330), plus social security and health insurance contributions and other benefits such as cost of living allowances, paid by the companies.

DTG CEO Stephan Roemer (left) flew to Bangkok Friday to navigate a New Year furlough scheme for more than 70 staff.

Roemer claimed all the impacted staff agreed with the furlough terms. It allows them to pursue additional work offers without jeopardising their employment contracts with the two Diethelm companies.

“All employees of DTT and DTG released from
work from January 2021 until further notice will be free to look for other
additional work,” the memo stated. “It doesn’t look like we can expect
international arrivals again before the summer or fall of 2021.”

Like all major travel firms in Southeast
Asia both DTT and DTG report, almost no income since last April and efforts to
shore up cash flow such as domestic travel to compensate for the absence of
international arrivals “have not been successful.”

Currently, staff are on 50% reduced salaries
or temporary leave until the end of 31 December when the new agreement kicks
in. A core team assigned to keep offices functioning in 2021 will continue to
receive 50% of their salaries; all other staff go on leave at THB10,000 a
month, Roemer explained.

Some expatriate executives including
Diethelm Travel Thailand’s general manager, Christian Stoeckil, will return
home and try to find a temporary job while accepting the terms “no work, no
pay” until business returns at DTG.

The official memo clearly stating offices “will be temporarily closed” was signed on behalf of Diethelm Travel (Thailand) Limited (DTT), and Diethelm Travel Management Limited (DTG) by general manager Christian Stoeckil, CEO Stephan Roemer and CFO PatamaNarintarangkool.

However, in clarifications made to ., Roemer reiterated twice “we do not have a temporary closure. This is completely wrong… There are NO office closures” despite his signature appearing on the memo that suggested otherwise. He alleged that “for labour law terms in Thailand it must be (described) as a temporary closure as only this status allows people to accept jobs while they are still employed.”

On-the-ground reality appears to support Roemer’s insistence that DTG offices remain open and commercially functional.  Core staff estimated at around 26 Thais and four expatriates will conduct essential business activities at the offices.  The more than 70 staff who will stand down 1 January having accepted a reduced salary package remain protected by DTG and DTT employment contracts. Most of the staff standing down 1 January were working in marketing, sales, group services and on temporary leave.

“As per contract, people are not able
to accept other jobs,” explained Roemer.“With this measure which is in
line with our staff, they are legally allowed to accept temporary jobs.”

Roemer who arrived in Bangkok last Friday
on a flight from Switzerland noted: “We have full-time skeleton teams of
at least one foreign manager and eight to 14 staff in each country…All other
staff are still employed under a minimal salary, thus giving them the chance to
accept temporary alternate jobs legally.”