While Prime Minister Prayut Chanocha claimed that his military government has done its best for workers with a very low unemployฌment rate over its five years in office, thouฌsands of workers called for better welfare and working conditions as they rallied for May Day yesterday.
The workers demanded that the Social Security Office (SSO) pension be increased to no less than Bt5,000 a month.
After a merit-making ceremony presided over by Labour Minister General Adul Sangsingkeo at the Royal Thai Army Sports Stadium in Phya Thai district, workers from 17 labour organisations marched to Kilawet 2 Stadium in Din Daeng district.
They held placards demanding better working and living conditions.
Prayut presided over the National Labour Day event at Kilawet and received the workers’ list of demands from their representative, Thawee Techateerawat.
Some of the demands have already been met, but most were awaiting legal amendments, Prayut said, without elaborating on which of the demands his government had implemented.
He told workers that Thailand has the world’s fourth-lowest unemployment rate and that his government had vowed to help raise labour skills to international standards.
There were 3.9 million unemployed workers in January, an increase of 41,000 workers from December 2018, according to the National Statistics Office.
The private sector has indicated that the unemployment rate would increase by 1.1-1.2 per cent this year, leaving 450,000 people without a job.
Prayut guaranteed that a newly elected government would take office in June to continue his work on behalf of workers.
“Bills pending legislative consideration would be passed into law when the new parliament resumes, and everything that has been done over the past five years will continue in the next government,” said Prayut, who is the prime minister candidate for the pro-junta Phalang Pracharat party.
The party failed to win a majority of seats in the March 24 election, but has vowed to collect support to form a government.
The former labour deputy minister from the Pheu Thai Party, Ladawan Wongsriwong, said her party could do better for workers if it managed to form a coalition government.
Prayut’s government failed to solve labour problems, she said. If the Pheu Thai government under Yingluck Shinawatra had been able to continue its work without the 2014 military intervention, the minimum wage would now be Bt400, said Ladawan. The current minimum wage ranges from Bt308 to Bt325, depending on the region.
The workers demanded SSO coverage for sub-contractors’ employees, along with enforcement of the law that requires employers to support the establishment |of saving co-operatives and provident |funds for their workers.
SSO secretary-general Ananchai Uthaipattanacheep said his agency had increased benefits for all SSO subscribers and tried to get all “off-system” workers, including freelancers, people who work from home and motorcycle taxi drivers, into its system so they could get compensation for illness, disability and death.
The SSO said that from April 20, 2018, to April 19 this year, 384,086 people who had previously lost their “voluntary insured status” had had this reinstated. These people had lost the status because they fell behind in monthly contribution payments for three months in a row or failed to make a full monthly contribution for nine months in a year.
A “voluntary insured person” refers to those who had been insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act (an employee who paid the monthly contribution for no less than 12 months) and then resigned from work and applied within a six-month period for designation as an insured person under Section 39, a status that requires them to pay contributions to the Social Security Fund at Bt432 a month per head.