The 300-Baht national daily minimum wage, introduced by the previous government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2013 to improve the living conditions of workers in the countryside, will be scrapped again next year, the Bangkok Post reports.
The current minimum wage of 300 Baht a day (about 9 dollars) applies to all 77 provinces of the country. It will be replaced by the old system where wages vary by each province based on the cost of living and are traditionally highest in Bangkok.
New provincial minimum wages will be considered at a national meeting in October. While there’s a strong likelihood that the daily minimum wages in Bangkok and surrounding provinces may actually increase, the minimum wages in many provinces mostly in the North and Northeast may be expected to drop to a certain degree.
Ironically, the Labour Ministry permanent secretary has been quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying Saturday that the change would not only “increase Thailand’s competitiveness and employment rates” (which may or may not be true) but also “improve the living conditions of workers and reduce wage disparities.”
As a recent survey has reportedly found that the “cost of living of workers almost doubled from 2013” (we assume that’s nationwide), we’re probably not the only ones who find it hard to follow his argumentation.
The 300-Baht daily minimum wage was one of the most popular election pledges of the ousted Puea Thai government. While the hike represented an increase of up to 70% for workers in some north-eastern provinces and was naturally embraced by the country’s working class, critics have claimed the policy undermined the kingdom’s competitiveness.
Updated (June 8) – According to a report by the Bangkok Post, the Labour Ministry has now clarified that “any change to the 300-baht national minimum wage will only be in one direction – higher,” and that 300 Baht would be only the “floor”.
A ministry spokesman has been quoted as saying:
If any province thinks the wage shouldn’t be raised, the minimum wage in that province will remain at 300 baht. Under no circumstance will it be below that level.
This suggests that while the minimum wage in provinces with a lower cost of living may not drop below 300 Baht a day (which may somewhat pacify the critics), the wages may however rise in provinces with a higher cost of living like, for example, Bangkok.