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FTI head faces ouster move on wage issue

Nov 15. 2012
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By TINNAKORN CHAOWACHUEN
THE NAT

Some members of the Federation of Thai Industries have pressed for the resignation of FTI chairman Payungsak Chartsutipol unless he clearly spells out what he is doing to oppose the expansion of the Bt300 minimum wage early next year.

Those members, mainly from the provinces, have demanded that Payungsak explain his role on the issue at an FTI committee meeting to be held on November 26.

“If Khun Payungsak cannot answer questions from members, he should consider his role and resign, and we will ask him to do so,” said an informed source in the FTI, adding that the chairman had been very slow to lobby against improving labourers’ incomes.

The same source said many of the members were unhappy with Payungsak’s administration as they could not negotiate themselves with the government on delay the expansion of the wage increase. The Bt300 minimum was set in several key provinces including Bangkok this year and is to go nationwide in January.

But another source said Payungsak intended to raise the wage issue with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her visit to Britain this week – he was part of the delegation accompanying her. In addition, he will work on the issue with the Thai Chamber of Commerce, which has vehemently opposed raising workers’ wages without parallel efforts to improve “productivity”.

“The [dispute] derived from different understandings of the situation,” this source said.

Some small and medium-sized enterprises upcountry have gradually raised wages in anticipation of the new minimum. However, others have been shutting down operations.

Some SMEs say they have already suffered big losses but things will get worse when the wage policy is fully implemented. They claim that the higher pay will create a domino effect, inflating the costs of raw materials and transport and ultimately the price of goods.

Veerayuth Sukwattago, vice president of the FTI for the Northern region, said yesterday that members needed the chairman to provide details on the progress of their demand to delay the wage increase to reduce its effect on manufacturing costs.

Before joining Yingluck on her trip to Britain early this week, Payungsak sent a written report on the minimum-wage issue to all members, in which he referred to the conflict within the FTI.

The issue came to a head when Payungsak failed to table members’ request for a delay of the wage increase when he met with Yingluck during the mobile Cabinet meeting on Koh Samui last month.

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