Keeping its campaign promise, the Pheu Thai Party plans to raise the daily minimum wage for workers nationwide to Bt300 (US$10).
Jarupong Ruangsuwan, Pheu Thai secretary-general, made the announcement amid growing public attention to the implementation of the party’s economic policy after it announced plans to form a new government with four smaller parties for a total of 299 votes in parliament.
In addition to the 300 baht minimum wage proposal, Pheu Thai earlier put forward a minimum starting salary of Bt15,000 per month for new graduates. Such campaign promises are believed to have swayed a large number of votes for the party. Jarupong said the new government will raise the minimum salary per month to Bt15,000 (US$500) for civil servants and state enterprise employees this October; the minimum daily wage hike is expected to begin in January 2012.
Final decisions will be made following discussions with the private sector concerning wage hikes, corporate income tax reductions, and provisions for new export markets, according to Jarupong.
Previously, the daily minimum wage in Bangkok and surrounding areas was raised to 215 baht. That 6.7 percent increase was considered a big jump in January 2011.
Somkiat Chayasriwong, permanent secretary for labour and chairman of the wage committee, attributed the wage raise to the government’s policy to reduce disparity in society. The Social Security Office says about 2 million Thai workers and 2 million migrant workers will benefit from the increase.
The wage increase for Thais adds more than 6.92 billion baht to the national payroll, while the increase for migrant workers adds up to more than 7.78 billion baht. The aggregate increase will boost the purchasing power of the 4 million workers by 14.69 billion baht.
In Phuket, the increase of 17 baht in the minimum wage from 204 baht to 221 baht is the highest in the country. Minimum wages in Bangkok and nearby provinces were put on an equal footing of 215 baht a day.
The minimum wage in Bangkok and Samut Prakan was raised by nine baht from 206 baht. In Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon and Nonthaburi, it was increased by 10 baht from 205 baht.
The size of the work force in Thailand now exceeds 38.24 million (2009 est.), growing by about 800,000 each year; the majority of workers are under 35 years of age.
While not the lowest-cost labor market in the region, Thailand’s workforce is among the most cost-efficient in the world, as they have earned a reputation for diligence and adaptability.