Hike has Phayao workers looking to head home
Many workers from Phayao have called friends in their home province to ask if there are any job vacancies. With the minimum daily wage soaring to Bt300 across the country, why should they stay away from their families and their roots? Will their dream to return home happily actually materialise?
Workers in the northern province have a reason to be happy: the statutory wage for workers in Phayao was the lowest in the country at Bt159. With the government's blanket minimum wage hike, it jumps overnight to Bt300.
"I've received several phone calls from friends lately," said Ratchanee Khemnak. "They want to ask if there are any jobs for them in our home province."
While employers are fretting about higher operating costs, workers themselves also know that they will have to work harder. They understand that with their pay being raised, they will have to give something in return.
"Regulations at my workplace have been adjusted as employers also want to make sure that we work hard enough for this higher pay," she said.
Agro-on (Thailand) executive Anupong Pinwises said entrepreneurs would be looking for skilled workers because they were the most likely group to deserve the Bt300 a day. He believed layoffs, if they happen, would hit older workers.
Phayao Chamber of Commerce chairman Hassanai Kaeokul believed most local businesses would not be able to adjust well to the Bt300 minimum daily wage because they were in labour-intensive sectors. The big wage hike means they will shoulder much higher costs.
"Most local businesses are in the fields of processed agricultural products and construction," he said.
Hassanai said employers would have to award pay hikes not just to workers who did not receive Bt300 a day last year, but also to those already receiving Bt300 or more.
"If their skills are better, they of course expect to be better paid," he pointed out.
Anupong said that most Phayao-based businesses were small and medium-sized enterprises.
Hassanai urged the government to consider remedial action for provinces hit hard by the policy.
Many big provinces have not seen a big hike in the daily wage because wage levels there are already high. Phayao, on the contrary, is a small province where wages used to be low. It is only after the current government came to power that they have jumped by nearly 100 per cent in a matter of two years.