Wage hike plan gains traction

Raises for degree holders would cost B18 billion

The Cabinet approved in principle yesterday a plan to raise the monthly income of civil servants with bachelor’s degrees to 15,000 baht, while leaving open the possibility that the benefit may be extended to personnel with lower levels of education.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters yesterday she had instructed relevant agencies to review the proposal more thoroughly to ensure it does not discriminate against state employees with no university degrees.

“I am concerned and want to make sure that the package does not cover only those with bachelor’s degrees,” she said. “We did not think about the people with vocational diplomas. So, we’ll need to look at the broader structure again.”

Under the proposal approved by the Cabinet yesterday, civil servants whose salaries are less than 15,000 baht a month would be given a cost of living allowance to bring their monthly income to 15,000 baht.

The increase would take effect on Jan 1, deputy government spokeswoman Anuttama Amornvivat said.

About 18 billion baht will be used from the 2012 budget to pay for the wage hike, a sum that would escalate to 24.5 billion baht in fiscal 2013, she said.

A total of 649,000 state officials in five categories are eligible for the cost of living increase. They are civil servants, permanent employees, temporary employees, contracted employees, and military personnel.

Of those, about 346,000 have a bachelor’s or higher degree.

Ms Anuttama said the cabinet had also passed a resolution ordering the Office of Civil Service Commission to adjust pay structures of government officials for four consecutive years until their base salaries reach 15,000 baht per month.

Those who do not have a bachelor’s degree would receive an allowance that would bring their monthly income up to 9,000 baht.

Soldiers whose salary now stands at 8,610 baht a month will enjoy the hike which will see their monthly income increase to 9,000 baht as well.

Some government employees contacted by the Bangkok Post were uncertain whether the 15,000-baht monthly income hike would be permanent as they feared the measure could affect the country’s finances.

A new government employee identified only as Taengmo, 27, who currently is paid 10,000 baht a month, said he was worried that the salary hike might affect the financial stability of the country. He urged the government to control inflation, which could defeat the purpose of the salary increase.

Tor, who has been in government service for six years and earns 12,000 baht a month, said he feels jealous of new graduates who look set to benefit from the 15,000 baht a month under the government’s policy immediately.

Many state employees with five to six years of service currently are paid much less than 15,000 baht.

If the government wants to tackle economic inequality, it should have adjusted pay scales of civil servants and state employees at all levels, he said.

Ms Nok, 35, a government employee with six years of service, said her salary base was about 13,000 baht. She said she would give the additional money to her father, who is now taking care of her three children upcountry.

But she said she was not sure whether there would be continuity in the Pheu Thai-led government’s income hike policy.

Pannee Charamporn, a lecturer at Rangsit University, urged the government to pay attention to civil servant wages and welfare benefits, particularly low-income-earning state employees.

She also said she wanted the government to tell the public how it will finance its wage hike policies.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck said she was concerned about what she viewed as too narrow a gap in salaries for civil servants with a master’s degree and those with a doctorate.

Ms Anutama said deputy prime minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong was authorised to consult with the Finance Ministry to seek an appropriate pay-scale for these groups of state employees.

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