Thailand: Labour minister pushing for wage rise in October

Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said on Tuesday he wanted an increase in the daily minimum wage of 5-8% from Oct 1 instead of early next year as intended, and denied bringing the pay rise forward was politically motivated.

The minister, speaking at Government House, said minimum wages should start to rise from Oct 1 because the cost of living had shot up.

He said provincial wage committees had already worked out new minimum wages for their respective provinces, and senior officials would finalise the increments.

“Increments will vary by 1-2 baht for some provinces. There will be 12 different rates for the daily minimum wage. They will not all be the same, and the raise will not start simultaneously in all provinces because the GDPs of provinces are different,” Mr Suchart said.

The labour minister said he ordered the permanent secretary for labour to finalise details of new minimum wages this month and he would propose them to the cabinet next month, so that the increases could begin on Oct 1.

“Over the past year we have not changed the wage because we had problems to solve, and to help people amid Covid-19 outbreaks. The government tried to prevent layoffs. Now is a good time and employers agree, because they want to retain their employees,” Mr Suchart said.

The minister said the wage increase would be 5-8%, based on inflation and the economic situation of the respective province.

The wage increase should start in Phuket, Eastern Economic Corridor provinces and Bangkok because of the high cost of living and production in those place. Labour officials were in dicussions with employers’ groups about raising minimum wages from Oct 1, Mr Suchart said.

He denied the government wanted to raise minimum wages sooner rather than early next year as earlier planned for political gain.

If it was political, the government would raise the minimum wage to 492 baht a day as workers’ organisations wanted, the minister said.

The minimum wage ranges between 313 and 336 baht a day in the various provinces. An increase of 5-8% would be 16 to 27 baht a day – barely enough for a cheap bowl of noodles.