Showdown coming over B400 minimum wage
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Showdown coming over B400 minimum wage

Wage committee says it won't bow to pressure from PM to approve nationwide rate by October

Representatives of labour organisations march towards Government House on Labour Day,  May 1. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)
Representatives of labour organisations march towards Government House on Labour Day, May 1. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

The government and the national wage committee are locking horns over the proposal to raise the minimum daily wage to 400 baht nationwide.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Tuesday that the increase would take effect either in September or October. But the committee insists it has not yet reached a conclusion, saying it will not bow to political interference.

Mr Srettha wrote on Facebook that the cabinet had acknowledged the proposal by the Ministry of Labour and that the increase would take place by October at the latest.

Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the increase would affect small and medium-sized enterprises, and the government would work out assistance measures, including tax breaks.

He said the ministry is ready to listen to feedback from employers who stand to be affected so it can find ways to help them.

The current minimum wage rates range from 330 to 370 baht, depending on the province. A 400-baht minimum is currently in effect in parts of 10 provinces, but it applies only to tourism-related businesses and four-star hotels with at least 50 employees.

Mr Phiphat said 400 baht a day was still less than the minimum wage in Indonesia and Malaysia.

The daily minimum in Malaysia is equivalent to 448 baht for a six-day work week and 538 baht for a five-day work week.

In Indonesia, monthly minimum wages range from the equivalent of 4,637 baht to 11,536 baht depending on the province. This works out to 185 to 461 baht a day for a month with 25 working days.

Deputy government spokesman Karom Phonphonklang said the national wage committee would prepare a Royal Gazette announcement of the wage hike in September or October.

He said the committee would hold a meeting with the Federation of Thai Industries and the Thai Chamber of Commerce to discuss the impact of the wage rise on businesses by the end of this month.

The tripartite committee, which is independent of the government under the law, met on Tuesday to discuss the proposal without reaching a conclusion. It comprises representatives from the government, employers and employees.

Speaking afterwards, Pairoj Chotikasathien, permanent secretary to the Labour Ministry and the committee chairman, said it was not a tool of any politicians.

It instructed its provincial subcommittees nationwide to consider the proper wage rates in each province, which business types it should be applied to, and whether they agree with an increase to 400 baht in October.

The information must be presented to the wage committee by the end of July, Mr Pairoj said.

Decisions of the wage committee cannot be interfered with [by any politicians]. Its decisions are made in line with economic circumstances, inflation and local consumer goods prices. Conditions are different in each province.

“Some small and-medium-sized enterprises and retail businesses may not be ready for the wage hike,” Mr Pairoj said.

“The provincial wage subcommittees will present the information and recommendations to the main committee for a final decision.”

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