Thai govt’s minimum wage hike to 400 baht faces opposition

Picture courtesy of Rahul Kashyap, Unsplash

The government’s recent announcement of an impending nationwide minimum wage hike to 400 baht per day in October has provoked strong opposition from a member of the tripartite wage committee. The committee member in question, Atthayuth Leeyavanich, who represents employers, criticised the premature disclosure of the wage increase, asserting that it had not yet been discussed or approved by the committee.

Atthayuth expressed confusion over the origins of the wage hike proposal, stating that the committee had only agreed to conduct a study on profession-based adjustment at its April 14 meeting. Atthayuth further suggested that Labour Minister Pipat Ratchakitprakarn, who publicised the increase on International Labour Day (May 1), may have been misinformed.

“At the April 14 meeting, the committee agreed to conduct a study on a profession-based adjustment.”

The last wage increase, which only impacted tourism-related businesses and four-star hotels in 10 select provinces, underwent rigorous study before receiving approval, Atthayuth added.

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“As for the profession-based adjustment, we need a study first and the committee will meet on May 14 to discuss the scope of the study and how long it will take.”

Atthayuth also highlighted that any changes to the daily minimum wage must abide by Section 87 of the Labour Protection Act. If the proposed rate complies with this law, the committee is prepared to support it.

Wage increase

Another wage committee member representing employees, Weerasuk Kaewboonpun, corroborated Atthayuth’s account, stating that the April 17 meeting did not entertain any proposal to hike the daily minimum wage to 400 baht (US$11).

“The PM criticised the two-baht increase as unacceptable because it couldn’t buy half an egg. But I asked him why the government didn’t try to lower egg prices. The goods’ prices are tied to the wage.”

Weerasuk further implied that the wage increase was simply an election promise and that the labour minister’s announcement could not exert pressure on the tripartite wage committee. He revealed that provincial committees were tasked with gathering information for the next wage hike and submitting it for review before October.

A Labour Ministry insider disclosed that businesses and trade associations are arranging a meeting with the labour minister to voice their opposition to the new wage hike, not to discuss it. They are even considering taking the matter to the Administrative Court if the government persists with the wage increase.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin stands firm on the government’s policy to raise the daily minimum wage and commends the labour minister for his endeavours. The business community, however, remains against the plan, reported Bangkok Post.

They argue that wage adjustments should be based on worker’s skills and only be implemented in businesses and provinces that are ready to pay higher wages. They also harbour concerns about potential job losses if the wage hike imposes excessive stress on employers.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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