Floating wage plan falls to earth
The business sector has urged the government to delay a floating minimum wage plan or any policy that would push the daily wage above 300 baht, as it would push consumer prices higher and have a negative impact on the economy, says the Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking (JSCCIB).
Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), a component of the committee, said the FTI had worked with the National Institute of Development Administration (Nida) on the issue by conducting a survey and questioning 1,303 companies.
The poll found 21.8% disagreed with the plan to float the minimum daily wage or raise the wage above 300 baht.
Moreover, 18.2% said the daily wage for skilled labour should be increased appropriately, while 15.5% said wages should be based on the cost of living in each province.
Another 13.6% said the government should ask for comments from the business sector before taking any decision to raise the minimum wage.
"The business sector will have another meeting next month, and we'd like to propose our comments to the government so it will listen to our concerns," Mr Supant said.
Last month, the National Wage Committee decided to cancel the minimum wage scheme in 2016 and replace it with a floating method.
Then the Labour Ministry announced a plan to replace the old system with a floating minimum wage based on the cost of living in each area. The daily floor would remain 300 baht.
At present, the government is studying the feasibility of minimum wage proposals.
Kamphol Panyagometh, Nida's vice-president for research and consulting services, said 51% of poll respondents wanted the government to keep the daily minimum wage unchanged at 300 baht.
"Many companies were severely affected by the 300-baht minimum wage in the past, and they needed to move their production bases to neighbouring countries to seek cheaper labour costs," Mr Kamphol said.
Tanit Sorat, vice-president of the Employers' Confederation of Thailand, said the business sector would meet next Tuesday to discuss the minimum wage.
The proposals generated by the meeting will be sent to the Labour Ministry for further decision-making on the daily minimum wage.
"At this stage, most of us [in the business sector] disagree with the plan to raise the daily wage to over 300 baht or even to 360 baht," Mr Tanit said.
"It's too high, and it would add to production costs and make it very difficult for companies to survive, especially small and medium-sized enterprises."