PM appeals for better wage rate

PM appeals for better wage rate

Wage rise of by 2–16 baht 'not enough' for workers

Construction workers endure scorching heat as they work to complete the Bang Yai-Kanchanaburi motorway project in April. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Construction workers endure scorching heat as they work to complete the Bang Yai-Kanchanaburi motorway project in April. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Kanchanaburi: Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has promised to seek a revision on the tripartite wage committee's decision to raise the daily minimum wage rate by between 2 and 16 baht across the country, saying he couldn't agree with such a low hike.

The government has been implementing various measures aimed at shouldering the operating costs of businesses, including subsidising electricity in the manufacturing sector and capping diesel fuel prices for transport, he said.

Now the government has to ask these businesses to cooperate in raising the minimum wage with a more suitable rate for the tens of millions of workers in the country, he said.

In return for what the government had given them, it was now time for employers to give something back.

He would seek talks in coming weeks with the tripartite wage committee, a panel comprising officials from the Ministry of Labour, employers and employees.

The PM said if the committee's decision to raise wages by only 2–16 baht is submitted to the cabinet for endorsement, he will reject it and call for a more suitable raise. "Should we really have to leave the minimum wages for Thai workers this ridiculously low, while Singapore, for one, offers a minimum wage of 1,000 baht a day?" he asked.

"Are we willing to let our workers be treated as if they were second- or third-class citizens of the world?" Mr Srettha added.

While inspecting government projects in Kanchanaburi on Saturday, Mr Srettha was asked by reporters to elaborate on how he would push for a revision of the panel's decision. He said he would not give a direct order to the committee to revise the decision, but instead discuss the matter with members to find a solution to the low-wage problem.

"Business operators and employers alike have benefited greatly from the government's measures, and now it's time for them to give back [by offering better wages] to the workforce, which is the most important mechanism in the manufacturing sector," he said.

Mr Srettha said that in the southern border provinces, he has started to raise confidence among local business operators by securing deals with Malaysia.

The wage hike for workers in these provinces should be higher in return for those gains, he said, noting these workers will only receive a hike of 2–3 baht.

Asked what should be the proper minimum wage rate, Mr Srettha said the new rate must be agreed by all sides.

"The raise for the three southernmost provinces isn't enough for even buying one egg," he said, referring to a revised rate of 330 baht per day from 328 baht.

When asked whether he would push for a wage rate of 400 baht per day across the board as promised during the election season, the PM said it may be suitable for some provinces.

When asked if he was concerned if the government's push would end up driving away businesses to another country, Mr Srettha said the notion is more of a threat rather than a possibility.

"No, no one would ever move away simply because the minimum daily wage is raised from 300 baht to 400 baht, especially while the government continues offering more benefits including tax privileges," he said.

Now that Thailand has won against Singapore in terms of its ability to attract major companies to set up data centres here, Thai workers should be paid better wages.

"I'm not saying this because I am trying to please the voters. The election campaign ended a long while ago," he said.

"What's happening now is the reality in which living conditions of the people need to be improved and be taken care of along with the government's economic stimulation efforts," he said.

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