Workers want more diversity on wage panels

A worker cleans the exterior of Siam Discovery shopping mall in Bangkok. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Workers have been urged to reject the setting of daily minimum wages by tripartite provincial committees and to press for a national panel with more diverse representation.

Currently, wages are set by provincial committees, with representatives from employees, employers and the government.

Under the current structure, employees’ voices have never won in the panels, said Satit Kaewwan, chairman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee.

In a statement on Friday, the group also demanded that the 2018 minimum wage be high enough to support two family members in line with the principles of the  of the International Labor Organization. 

The rate should also apply to all types of labourers regardless of their skills, he said. Those with experience of one year or more should see their wages raised every year.

Mr Satit said his group also disagreed with the principle of having each province set its own wage, saying it further widened the income gap.

The group wants the provincial wage committees scrapped, leaving only the national wage committee but with a more diverse composition.

In addition to employers, employees and the government, it wants to see neutral academic experts from different institutions for improved transparency and acceptability.

“Effective price controls of consumer products could help so that minimum wage hikes are meaningful,” Mr Satit added.

“More importantly, the wage increases must reflect reality. In the past, we proposed a flat rate of 360 baht [a day] for all provinces, which was still not enough as it did not include rent, transport costs and support for a family of three.”

In 2011, the group proposed a living wage of 560 baht. When taking into consideration inflation at 3% a year, the rate should be 600 to 700 baht a day now, he said.

“Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said recently an income of 100,000 baht a year was not enough for the current cost of living and that it should be triple that, or 25,000 baht a month.

“Workers are not demanding that high a rate but it should at least match the cost of living,” he said.      

Last raised on Jan 1 this year, the daily minimum wage is now 300 baht in eight provinces, 305 baht in 49 provinces, 308 baht in 13 provinces and 310 baht in seven provinces.

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