Bt300 wage forces Siriraj to hike fees
Low-cost drug policy also contributed to loss of income, Mahidol dean saysSiriraj Hospital plans to hike its fees this year after shouldering an additional Bt800 million in wage costs due to the Bt300 wage policy and losing Bt1 billion in income to the government's measures to reduce drug expenses, the dean of Mahidol University's Medicine Faculty said.
The Bt300 wage and the policy to raise degree holders' monthly salary to Bt15,000 had affected the hospital's finances, because the government fund for salary adjustment covered only civil servants and university employees, not the 4,000-5,000 Siriraj employees, who deserved an equal right to a pay hike, Dr Udom Kachintorn said yesterday.
Thus, the hospital would have to use Bt800 million a year from its own pocket for this purpose. The policy to use domestically made generic drugs rather than imported drugs had also cost the hospital around Bt1 billion in income last year, Udom said.
Insisting that the hospital would follow the government's policies, and that it has no policy to lay people off despite the heavier financial burden, Udom said Siriraj aimed to care for its personnel until after retirement in all respects.
Thus, the hospital would adjust fees for services such as hospital beds and treatments this year, while also trying to cut expenses and costs. It will also try to earn extra via joint research projects with private companies.
Public Health permanent secretary Narong Sahamethapat said a working team would soon come up with an adjusted schedule of fees for medical services for Public Health Ministry hospitals.
In related news, Thai Labour Solidarity Committee President Chalee Loysung urged the government to set up a fund to pay compensation to laid-off workers, to aid workers in negotiations with employers, and help laid-off workers find new jobs.
Many employers had used the wage hike as an excuse to fold their business without paying legal compensation or treating workers fairly, he said, adding that many factories that had suffered cumulative losses were claiming they had to fold because of the wage hike.
Among the examples was Electrolux Thailand (Rayong), a washing-machine manufacturer with capacity to build over one million machines a year and employing 650 people. The committee said that, on January 10, the company's labour union negotiated with executives for an appropriate pay hike for all, rather than adjusting solely for those earning less than Bt300 a day regardless of how long they had worked for the company.
The firm responded the next day by saying it couldn't meet such a demand, leading to the firing of a union committee and union members that same afternoon.
While some factories haven't laid off workers, many workers had to work longer hours, posing the risk of accidents or illness, the committee said. Pressured by rising costs, employers had increased working hours, and put the work environment second, it said.