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Bt300 minimum wage a failure, survey says

The Bt300 minimumwage policy has failed to elevate workers' quality of life, according to the results of a survey released yesterday by the Thai Labour Reconciliation Committee (TLRC), which urged the Labour Ministry to review its role and do more to protect workers' rights.

The minimumwage policy, in effect in seven provinces since April 1, hasn't forced many establishments to raise their minimum wages and most companies are including their welfare allowance with the wage in order to meet the policy requirement, TLRC chairman Chalee Loysung said.

The situation has been especially hard on workers who've been on the job for more than 10 years, Chalee said. Requests for raises were rejected and met with threats of termination, and the older workers felt they had no choice but to accept the condition because they feared they wouldn't find another job at their age, he said.

Subcontract companies that employ such workers as security guards and maids told their employees that the wage hike was out of the question because the contract was already fixed, Chalee said.

The Labour Ministry has seemingly ignored its duty and has largely left the matter for employers and the workers to argument among themselves, Chalee said.

The policy of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's administration calls for a daily minimum wage of Bt300 and a salary of Bt15,000 for workers with bachelor's degrees, but the private sector is not complying because of a lack of clear guidelines, Chalee said. The TLRC will gather the workers' complaints and submit them to Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap.

According to the survey, collected from eight TLRC complaintgathering centres, there were 5,134 complaints: 2,380 from workers, mostly in the hotel, transport, auto parts and jewellery sectors, who didn't receive the wage hike; 2,168 from workers, mostly in the textile industry, who faced changes in employment condition, lower welfare, position transfer or factory move; and 586 workers, mostly in the electronics, service, transport, food and furniture sectors, who saw their welfare allowances included with the Bt300 minimum wage.

TLRC deputy chair Wilaiwan Saetia said employers were using the minimumwage policy to reduce taxes, which mainly benefits big companies while small businesses simply threatened their workers with layoffs to force them to take the lowerthanlegal wages.

Wilaiwan urged the government to implement the Bt300 minimum wage nationwide by the end of this year as it had promised before the election, and resist the push by employers to postpone the wage hike.

Thailand Autoworkers Federation (TAW) president Yongyuth Mentapao echoed the TLRC's assertion that the Bt300 minimum wage has been a failure. He urged the Labour Ministry to do more to protect workers' rights, including foreign migrant labourers.


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