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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     3 October  2011                    

Thai wage boost to “rebalance” society

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Boosting minimum wages and farm income is all part of a larger strategy aimed at nothing short of rebalancing Thailand's society and economy, says Kittiratt Na-Ranong, the deputy prime minister in charge of economic policy.
Thailand needs to steer away from the export-driven growth model used for the past five decades to one based on domestic consumption.

"Do you agree that 250 baht (US$8.33) a day is a decent wage? Or even the 300 baht ($10) per day that I am proposing," Mr Kittiratt, also the commerce minister, said.

"Working for eight full hours ... do you think that is good enough for these people who are Thai human beings, and foreign human beings ... whether this kind of level is considered decent? I don't. I wouldn't let my son, or my brothers, or my good friends work and earn that little. I'll do anything that I can to help them."

The government will raise minimum wages, now set at 226 baht per day in Phuket to 156 baht in Phayao, to 300 baht per day in Bangkok and six other provinces starting Jan 1, 2012. Authorities will also raise civil service salaries for university graduates to 15,000 ($500) baht per month under a program that will push state salary spending up by 27 billion baht per year.

The increases are a step backwards from prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra's campaign promises to boost wages nationwide in one go, after stiff opposition from the business sector.

But Mr. Kittiratt said he was confident that the rate hike would push wages at the bottom upwards across the system.
"Some companies have already committed to raising wages on their own, even for provinces not yet targeted under the programme," he said.

"It's good that they are volunteering to do so, that way I won't have to force them. The tripartite committee decides by majority vote. For decades, the government has sided with the employers. Now it's time to look after the workers.”

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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