Call for rise in minimum wage

April 20, 201610:57 am299 views
Call for rise in minimum wage
Labour activists march in October 2015, calling for an increase in the minimum wage to 360 baht a day and for the rate to be applied in all provinces, compared with 300 baht a day in major provinces currently....

The government is being urged to raise the daily minimum wage by 5-7% in a bid to ease the hardship of farmers and working people whose income cannot meet their expenses.

Thanavath Phonvichai, vice-president for research at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC), said its latest survey found that most consumers except farmers and low-paid workers viewed prices of consumer goods as unchanged and still affordable.

“Despite negative inflation, farmers and workers whose income is less than 20,000 baht a month see more expensive costs of living, with their expenses outpacing what they earn,” he said.

The Commerce Ministry reported earlier this month that consumer prices, based on 450 products and services, fell for a 15th straight month in March. The rate was down by 0.46% year-on-year in March, easing slightly from a 0.50% drop in February and 0.53% in January.

The decline was mainly because of lower costs for power bills and cooking gas.

But core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, was 0.75% on an annual basis in March.

In the first quarter, consumer prices fell by 0.50% from a year earlier. Core inflation was 0.67% for the three months.

Mr Thanavath attributed the inflation decline to the poor economy domestically and globally.

He expects the Thai economy to remain in the doldrums due to widespread drought, which is likely to last until June.

The drought is estimated to cost losses of about 120 billion baht to the economy, both directly and indirectly, or about 0.85% of gross domestic product, aggravating the plight of low-income farmers and workers.
In 2015, average household income was 26,915 baht per month, with average expenses of 21,157 baht. The survey found 75.2% of households were in debt at an average of 156,770 baht each per year, with 44% comprising informal loans.

“Thailand has suffered a relatively long economic slowdown with growth lower than 3% a year since 2011, while incomes of laboureres have not been adjusted up over the last three years,” Mr Thanavath said.

“We thus propose the national wage tripartite committee raise the minimum daily wage by 5-7% from 300 baht to help ease the hardship of low-income earners in certain provinces.”

Mr Thanavath said the farm sector was being hit particularly hard by widespread drought on top of existing low agricultural product prices.

The government needs to speed up spending at the tambon level to create jobs and draw farmers into other sectors, he said.

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