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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           15   July  2011

Pheu Thai backs down on wage increase ploy

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When the "rubber meets the road" things change and that is what is happening to the Pheu Thai party in Thailand even before it takes office. The bump in the road is the promised 300 baht (US$10) nationwide wage increase. This move has been criticized by businesses and economists.

After criticism from businesses and academics about its policy, Pheu Thai is expected to review the proposed 300-baht wage increase with Bangkok and Phuket to be the first provinces to get the wage rise.

The wage increase would later cover other provinces gradually over a one-year period. Pheu Thai's proposed 300 baht a day wage has raised concern among academics and businesses that the policy will force many entrepreneurs out of business as they would be unable to cope with a higher wages bill.

Some fear the policy could also increase inflation, although Pheu Thai has promised to offset the impact of a higher minimum wage by cutting the corporate tax rate from 30 percent to 23 percent by next year, and 20 percent by 2013.

Chalee Loysoong, chairman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, yesterday insisted Pheu Thai must honour its campaign pledge of a minimum 300-baht wage across the country.

He said any attempt by the party to review the wage rise promise amounted to a blatant lie which cannot be tolerated by workers who had expected the party to become the government, Mr. Chalee said.

He said the application of the wage increase only in Bangkok and Phuket will prompt a sudden, massive influx of workers from other provinces into the two cities and this would have adverse repercussions on the industrial productivity of other provinces.

Mr. Chalee said the committee will meet Yingluck Shinawatra, the prospective prime minister, on Monday to demand she adhere to the wage rise promise.

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