At the intersection of Na Ranong in 2022, workers can be seen diligently piecing together an overpass. These construction warriors, alongside countless others within various sectors of the Thai economy, typically get by on the daily minimum wage. But voices from the labor force are now echoing demands for transformation. (Photo: Pornprom Satrabhaya)
Chalee Loysoong, a consultant to the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), is one of the prominent voices at the forefront of this call to action. Chalee is championing the long-heralded demand for a flat-rate 492-baht daily minimum wage to be rolled out nationwide. He believes that the key to unlocking increased purchasing power lies within working regular, decent, remunerable employment – and not within a fleeting 10,000-baht cash government handout.
“A consistent wage hike offers a more sustainable way to inflate the economy,” Loysoong contended. He dispelled the fear that a wage increase would lead to business moving their production houses. On the contrary, he emphasized that favorable investment policies would keep their base rooted in Thai soil.
Loysoong’s support for a nationwide minimum flat rate rests on the universal fact that consumer goods bear the same price tags across the country. “By rooting for the flat rate, the purchasing power across the board receives a much-needed boost,” he explained.
He also urged the labour minister not to meddle in the wage committee’s affairs. This tripartite committee – representing the state, employers, and employees – is responsible for the crucial job of wage assessment.
Atthayuth Leeyawanich, the head of the Employers Confederation of Consumer Goods and Services, lent his voice to Loysoong’s call, stressing the volatility of the economic growth. Inflation and unbearable 400-baht wage remain a blind spot that employers can’t afford at present and requires government intervention to ameliorate the state of the economy.
Leeyawanich cautioned the government against coercing the wage committee, emphasizing that the final wage determination rests with them after examining provincial committee reports. The endorsed figure is then passed onto the labour minister and the cabinet for ratification. “We need to let the committee perform its duties,” he solemnly added.
Last year, there was a hike in the daily wage across all the 77 provinces – from 328 to 354 baht on average. This increase represented a modest 5.02% improvement, representing the first wage growth the country had seen after a two-year pause. Despite this, the demand for a flat rate of 492 baht continues. The whispers of discontent among the workers now form a unified roar, demanding fairer remuneration for their labor.