Pheu Thai's promise to hike wages under fire

Pheu Thai's promise to hike wages under fire

Paetongtarn ‘Ung-ing’ Shinawatra, head of the Pheu Thai Family, centre, poses for a photograph with party members after showcasing her vision for the party and its campaign slogan ‘Think Big, Act Smart, For All Thais’ at the party headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)
Paetongtarn ‘Ung-ing’ Shinawatra, head of the Pheu Thai Family, centre, poses for a photograph with party members after showcasing her vision for the party and its campaign slogan ‘Think Big, Act Smart, For All Thais’ at the party headquarters in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo: Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

The Pheu Thai Party kicked off its election campaign on Tuesday with promises of lifting the daily minimum wage to 600 baht and the minimum monthly salary for those with a bachelor's degree to 25,000 baht.

The party's wage rise promise attracted criticisms from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and university academics.

They may be too ambitious, said Gen Prayut while adding that the lifting of the minimum daily wage to 600 baht was easier said than done. Future ramifications must be considered in formulating a policy, he said.

Pushing up the wage is a matter to be vetted by the tripartite committee made up of workers, employers, and the state. There are also investors to listen to, who might not be able to afford the hike, the PM said.

In reality, many skilled workers are being paid more than 600 baht a day now, Gen Prayut said, adding that policy should focus on the new labour environment and challenges where workers work alongside machinery and the promotion of high-revenue industries.

As for the 25,000-baht monthly salary for university graduates, Gen Prayut asked: "Where will the money to finance that come from?"

Yuttaporn Issarachai, a political science lecturer at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, said such campaign policies might be well-received but many people's attitudes towards parties have shifted as they embrace ideology above simply the issue of more money in their pocket.

Paetongtarn "Ung-ing" Shinawatra, head of the Pheu Thai "family", made the wage guarantee part of her vision for the country's future in the next four years if the party won a mandate to form the government after the next general election.

Ms Paetongtarn, who vowed to lead the main opposition party to a landslide victory in the polls, said the country had gone backwards over the past several years, and it was time to restore its dignity.

Under a new slogan, "Think Big, Act Smart, For All Thais", she urged voters to support Pheu Thai in both the constituency and party-list systems and said that stabilised politics was instrumental to bringing back a "lost decade".

Ms Paetongtarn, widely seen as one of the party's potential candidates for prime minister, shared her vision for the country in 10 areas -- economy, agriculture, tourism, innovations, public health, education, narcotic drugs, water management, mass transportation, and energy.

Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew said on Tuesday that winning the elections by a landslide was a must for the party to get an outright mandate to form a government and turn the situation around for the Thai people.


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