PM upbeat in spite of job losses

PM upbeat in spite of job losses

Govt plans help for laid-off factory staff

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

The government is trying to find ways to help workers who have been laid off after nearly 1,400 factories closed down during the past 11 months, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Tuesday.

The government also pointed to more than 2,000 new factories having opened over the period, with jobs created for over 80,000 people.

Speaking after Tuesday's cabinet meeting, Gen Prayut said he has instructed cabinet ministers to come up with measures to improve the grassroots economy as well as assist farmers and workers both financially and in terms of upgrading their skills.

He also stressed the need for economic ministers to promote domestic and foreign investment and, in particular, promote state investment projects.

The prime minister said that any spending of the 2020 fiscal 3.2-trillion-baht budget will have to wait until after the bill is passed by parliament.

Gen Prayut added that the government has also attached importance to online trading and expediting the use of digital technologies to improve efficiency in business.

Despite the closure of 1,391 factories between Jan 1 to Nov 12 of this year, application requests for new factory openings totalled 2,889 as of Nov 12, Krichanont Iyapunya, a deputy spokesman at the Industry Ministry said earlier.

There were also new jobs created from new businesses for 84,033 people, he said, while 84,704 people were employed on the back of new factory openings, compared with 35,533 laid-off employees.

Mr Krichanont also said numerous factories still need additional workers, while several factories are seeking to expand their operations, and are ready to spend more than 431 billion baht worth of government investment money, a 36.6% boost on what they received last year.

"The overall condition of factory operations is not in recession," Mr Krichanont said.

Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul said that some 79,000 job vacancies are still available, which reflects the high demand for workers. He expressed confidence that the government's infrastructure development and mass-transit projects will inject more cash into the economy over the next few years.

Meanwhile, a source at the Labour Ministry said that the proposed minimum wage hike will be submitted to a tripartite committee composed of employees, employers, and the government for approval today.

If approved, the new rates will be presented to the cabinet for endorsement before being announced in the Royal Gazette, the source said, adding that the new rates are expected to come into effect by the end of this year, as a New Year's gift for workers.

Provincial sub-committees given the task of adjusting minimum daily wage rates have proposed annual raises of between two to 10 baht. The proposal was also deliberated by the central academic screening sub-committee.

In August, the central wage committee chaired by permanent secretary for labour, Suthi Sukosol, resolved that the two to 10 baht rise should be reviewed in line with the changing economic conditions and the rising cost of living.

Suthep Ou-on, a Future Forward Party MP who chairs the House committee on labour, said that the minimum wage should be at least 400 baht a day across the whole country due to current high living costs.

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