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Phuket Business: Coping with labor costs

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Business: Coping with labor costs | The Thaiger

PHUKET: As labor-intensive industries adjust their operations in order to cope with the nationwide 300 baht minimum daily wage, efforts include trimming logistics costs, improving production efficiency and hiring only skilled workers.

Tawee Piyapattana, president of Pacific Fish Processing Co, which specializes in the production of frozen seafood, says the company, which employs 3,000 people, will not lay off personnel but will instead focus on cutting logistics expenses. He claims this new strategy will also boost production efficiency and human-resource management.

Mr Tawee says his company will not raise prices in the short term, which would risk loss of market share during a time of intense competition in the export market.

The total export of processed seafood from Thailand dropped by 15% last year, amid tough competition from exporters in neighboring countries.

The chairman of the Textile Industry Club of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), Somsak Srisupornwanit, says the shutdown of a textile company in Saraburi province, is the result of declining purchase orders from foreign markets, especially as the European economy remains sluggish.

He added that the minimum-wage increase has aggravated his company’s situation – while revenue fell labor costs rose.

The wage increase is expected to pressure manufacturers in remote rural areas to relocate their plants to more urban areas in order to save on logistics costs. Another option is that some companies may choose to relocate to low-paying neighboring countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar.

Therefore, it is possible that the concentration of factories in Greater Bangkok and major cities will become denser in the near future, as companies seek a solution to streamlining efficiency.

However, Mr Somsak does not expect to see many factories closing down, as their owners will exhaust all options available to them.

“The textile business is not limited to garment production but can supply products to
different sectors, such as the fast-growing auto industry,” says Mr Somsak. “In one [new] car model, at least 40 parts of the body uses textile material,” he added.

One bright spot for Thai economists is that domestic car production is expected to reach 2.6 million units by the end of this year.

“If textile makers begin to work more closely with other high-growth sectors or supply products to the fashion sector, they will have a chance to survive. Small textile companies can also seek subcontracts from bigger peers,” he adds.

FTI vice chairman Vallop Vitanakorn says textile plants will not abruptly shut down in reaction to rising labor costs but would instead first slow production and stop recruiting new workers. If they have to recruit, they will select only skilled labor, he adds.

Sukit Kongpiyajarn, president of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association, said after a meeting on the impact of the wage increase that manufacturers will have to improve production efficiency and control costs. If they pay overtime for 25 days, they will experience an additional cost of 1,600 baht per worker per month.

He expects it to become clear in the second quarter whether or not the sector can survive.

However, he noted that Thailand is not the only country trying to improve the incomes of its lowest-paid citizens. Vietnam has also raised labor wages by 18%.

If the garment producers can hold on for three years, the competition between Thailand and Vietnam will be on par.

— Pranee Muenphangwaree

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Thailand

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military

Maya Taylor

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Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook

Facebook has confirmed the removal of 185 accounts run by the Thai military and allegedly involved in information-influencing. The social media giant says the accounts were deleted for engaging in what it calls, “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. In total, 77 accounts, 72 pages, and 18 groups have been removed from the platform, in addition to 18 Instagram accounts. It’s the first time Facebook has taken such action against accounts linked to the Thai government.

The accounts were associated with the Thai military and were targeting people in the southern provinces, Facebook said its regular report on coordinated inauthentic behavior. The south of the country has been the scene of decades-long conflict, with insurgent groups in the majority-Muslim, Malay-speaking region calling for independence. To date, around 7,000 people have died in the ongoing struggle.

Facebook says the deleted accounts were most active last year and used both fake and real accounts to manage pages and groups, both openly military pages and pages that hid their links to the military. Some of the fake profiles pretended to be people from the southern provinces.

The report mentioned a post by the now-removed account named “comprehending the operation” in Thai. The page posted the logo for Amnesty International Thailand and wrote “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role in society. Normal people are not famous. Any case is not big news. They are not worth the investment of foreigners so they will not do anything to help. This is why we don’t see anything from the NGO.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “The NGO never cares about ordinary citizens because they have no role nor money.”

On another now-removed account, named “truth about my home Pattani” in Thai, a post said “Muslim leader declares southern border is a peace zone. The southern separatists started a movement by spreading the idea that Thailand is under control by different believers so that people would come and fight for their religion. This was declared that the action clearly violates Islam faith.”

Facebook removes “information-influencing” pages linked to Thai military | News by The Thaiger

Image overlay translates to “Southern border is not Jihad zone.”

When contacted by Reuters, the military had no comment on the removal of the Facebook accounts, with a spokesman saying the organisation does not comment outside of official press conferences.

The head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, has confirmed the reasons behind the platform’s decision.

“This is the first time that we’ve attributed one of our takedowns to links to the Thai military. We found clear links between this operation and the Internal Security Operations Command. We can see that all of these accounts and groups are tied together as part of this operation.”

He adds that the accounts had spent around US$350 on advertising on both Facebook and Instagram. One or more of the pages had about 700,000 followers and at least one of the groups had 100,000 members. Gleicher says the accounts were removed because of their misleading behaviour and not because of the content being posted. The content included support for the military and the monarchy, with allegations of violence and criticism of insurgent groups in the south.

It’s not the first time accounts linked to the Thai military have been removed by a social media platform. In October, Twitter removed 926 accounts it says had links to the army and posted pro-military and pro-government content. The Thai army has denied any involvement with the accounts in question. In November, Twitter also suspended an account posting pro-monarchy content that was found to have links to the palace and to thousands of other accounts posting similar content.

To read the February 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, click HERE.

SOURCES: Reuters| Facebook

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Central Thailand

Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers

Maya Taylor

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Airline executive arrested for failure to pay wages of 150 workers | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

An airline executive has been arrested in the central province of Samut Songkhram, after complaints from150 employees that they had not been paid. Chawengsak Noiprasan, who had a court warrant issued against him in October, was taken to Don Muang police station from a property in the Bang Khan Take sub-district. He is a board member of Siam Air Transport.

The airline began operations in October 2014 with services out of Don Mueang to Hong Kong, using 2 Boeing 737-300s. 2 Boeing 737-800s were added to its fleet in late 2015. It expanded by adding Zhengzhou and Guangzhou in China to its network in early 2015. In late 2015, the airline launched flights to Macau and Singapore. In 2017, the airline ceased all operations.

But according to an article in the Bangkok Post, the carrier operates a number of scheduled and charter flights from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. The Post reports that, as Chawengsak signs the company’s legal paperwork, all legal matters concerning the airline fall to him.

The Metropolitan Police Bureau says the executive has admitted to ignoring a 30 day notice issued by the labour inspector and ordering the payment of wages to 150 workers. It’s understood he is also wanted in relation to 7 other cases.

The authorities sought Chawengsak’s arrest following complaints from employees who say they haven’t received their wages for 2 months. It’s understood the airline had previously deferred salary payments for over 8 months. 150 workers filed an official complaint with Don Mueang police and also approached media outlets, asking them to pressure the airline into paying the money owed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Business

Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Governments & old media versus social media – who will win? | VIDEO | The Thaiger

We look at the recent changes made by the Australian and Indian governments to except control over the world’s biggest social media platforms. India has issued strict new rules for Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms just weeks after the Indian government attempted to pressure Twitter to take down social media accounts it deemed, well, anti social. There is now an open battle between the rise of social media platforms and the governments and ‘old’ media that have been able to maintain a certain level of control over the ‘message’ for the last century. Who will win?

The rules require any social media company to create three roles within India… a “compliance officer” who ensures they follow local laws; a “grievance officer” who addresses complaints from Indian social media users; and a “contact person” who can actually be contacted by lawyers and other aggrieved Indian parties… 24/7.

The democratisation of the news model, with social media as its catalyst, will continue to baffle traditional media and governments who used to enjoy a level of control over what stories get told. The battles of Google and Facebook, with the governments of India and Australia will be followed in plenty of other countries as well.

At the root of all discussions will be the difference between what governments THINK social media is all about and the reality about how quickly the media landscape has changed. You’ll get to read about it first, on a social media platform… probably on the screen you’re watching this news story right now.

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