B300 wage here to stay, says ministry

B300 wage here to stay, says ministry

Any change to the rate will only be upward

The Labour Ministry has clarified any change to the 300-baht national minimum wage will only be in one direction — higher.

Deputy permanent secretary Arak Prommanee, in his capacity as ministry spokesman, said on Monday earlier reports that the Wage Committee had resolved to scrap the B300 national daily minimum wage and to float the wage were misleading.

"Actually, they were just proposals made by the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida). They were revealed at Friday's seminar for the sake of discussion. It's definitely not a resolution of the committee," he said.

For the wage in 2016, the committee told provincial committees to study and determine whether the wages should be increased and by how much, based on the cost of living in each province, he added.

"If any province thinks the wage shouldn't be raised, the minimum wage in that province will remain at 300 baht. Under no circumstance will it be below that level," he said.

The rate for 2016 will be decided late in October, he added.

His explanations suggested although the wage in any province may not come below 300 baht, it might no longer be a single rate for all provinces in the future. 

The reports last week have drawn criticisms among academics and labour groups.

Anusorn Tamajai, dean of Rangsit University's Economics Faculty, told Thairath Online on Monday floating the rates based on industries and 18 provincial economic clusters would attract workers to flock to large cities, dampen spending of low-income earners and increase their debts.

Vilaiwan Tia, chairwoman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, which demanded a hike in the national minimum wage to 360 baht a day in late March, said employees had no bargaining power if the wage was floated since few provinces had strong labour unions.

Three hundred baht should remain the floor and upward adjustments should be made to match the cost of living, years of service and skills, she told Manager Online on Saturday.

On Friday, Labour Ministry permanent secretary Nakhon Silpa-archa was quoted by Thai media as saying at a seminar of wage committee members the 300-baht minimum wage would take effect until the end of this year.

It remains undecided whether the daily minimum wage will be higher but the Wage Committee decided on Dec 8, 2014 to reinstate the old regime where wages vary by the cost of living and the economy of each province.

The 300-baht minimum wage, a more than 100% increase for workers in some provinces, was one of the election campaigns of the Yingluck Shinawatra government. Taking effect in 2013, it drew substantial resistance from employers who claimed it undermined the country's competitiveness. The hike was also blamed for the current export slump Thailand is now facing.

The Yingluck government defended the move, saying the wage had not been revised for several years and was out of sync with the cost of living. It helped operators by providing tax breaks for machinery imports to replace more expensive labour

A wage committee consists of five representatives each from employers, employees and the government.

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