The government insisted yesterday it would roll out the Bt300 (S$12) daily minimum wage to the remaining 70 provinces as scheduled following its launch in seven provinces including Bangkok on April 7, despite employers' complaints and threats of non-compliance.
In her speech at the main May Day event at the Royal Plaza, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said the government would meet the election promise of a Bt300 wage across the country by January next year, and vowed to keep prices of commodities as low as possible to ease the financial burden on low-income earners.
Labour Minister Phadermchai Sasomsap said the increasing price of goods "corresponded with normal marketing conditions", but called on producers not to raise prices further. He said that employees entitled to but still not receiving the Bt300 daily minimum could submit complaints to the ministry, adding that no petition had been lodged so far.
Citing concerns over higher costs and requests by employers to delay the launch date for nationwide payment of Bt300 to 2015, he said no business owners had submitted reports on "clear impacts" to their ventures resulting from the Bt300 wage, and that the launch date of next January had been declared in law and must be abided by.
The Tripartite Wage Committee, chaired by Somkiat Chayasriwong, said the launch date could not be changed, but a petition to be submitted by employers' representatives in today's meeting would be accepted. "It is their right to create a petition but the final decision rests on the entire Committee's agreement," he said.
Chaiyaphorn Janthana, chairman of the Council of Employees of Independent Labour of Thailand, said his group was opposed to a delay in the roll-out of the Bt300 minimum wage, as the price of everyday goods had soared and employees' lives were already difficult.
Another labour leader, Chalee Loisung, chairman of the Thai Labour Reconciliation Committee, called on the government to work on cutting the cost of living by reducing the price of petrol and cooking gas along with tariffs for public transport.
He also said that a fair, across-the-board wage scale must be worked out to create annual pay raises, while parliament should accept a bill on state welfare and social security in the people's name and pass it into a law.