Govt Values Workers, PM Insists, As All Eyes Turn To Wage Rise

Minimum Wage Protest
Workers hold signs calling for a daily minimum wage of 492 baht across the country as they celebrate Labour Day at Democracy Monument.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday marked Labour Day with a commitment that the government will ensure job security and a better quality of life to help people develop and realise their full potential.

In a speech delivered to celebrate Labour Day, Gen Prayut said the government places strong emphasis on labour development so the people have better job opportunities and more income.

The labour force was instrumental in driving economic growth and the government would do its best to ensure workers were not left behind in its national development strategy, he said.

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Gen Prayut said that with the emergence of robotics and automation, the government would also ensure that workers were properly equipped with skills to meet the challenges.

The premier also accepted an eight-point proposal submitted by labour organisations for implementation, and pledged to tackle human trafficking and provide better protection for Thai and migrant workers.

“The government has never abandoned workers. The prime minister and cabinet ministers will do their best to tackle the people’s problems,” he said.

In a media interview, Gen Prayut said authorities are reviewing a proposal for wage hikes and they will take into consideration all economic data including inflation as they do so.

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said yesterday the wage increases would be decided by the national wage committee, but said the union-backed proposed increase to 492 baht nationwide was an extreme demand.

He said the proposed rise, floated by the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) and the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SEWRC), was an increase of 48% and it was unlikely to be accepted.

“The wage increases are likely but the amount will have to be decided. It should allow both businesses and employers to stay on,” he said.

Suchat Thailuan, president of the National Congress of Thai Labour, said labour unions submitted an eight-point demand this year including the ratification of two International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions and improvements of the labour protection law and social security scheme benefits.

The ILO’s 87th and 98th conventions involve workers’ right to gather and negotiate.

Anuchit Kaewtan, member of the National Congress of Thai Labour, said employees insured under the Social Security Act should be allowed to choose if they want a one-time payment or monthly retirement benefits.

He said the Social Security Office should let insured workers entitled to retirement benefits when they reach the age of 55 decide for themselves.

Mr Anuchit also said a daily minimum wage increase was long overdue.

“It’s time to raise the wages which have been frozen for two years,” he said.

Workers celebrating Labour Day turned out in force yesterday at Democracy Monument and marched to Government House to push for a daily wage of 492 baht.

M-Power, a non-governmental organisation campaigning for rights of workers in night entertainment venues, yesterday renewed calls for the government to assist workers badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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