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Laos' new minimum wage may take effect next month: Report

Jan 19. 2015
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By The Nation

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The promised increase of the national minimum wage, designed mainly to draw workers back from Thailand, may be officially introduced next month, according to Vientiane Times.
The daily quoted an anonymous official from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare as saying that the ministry is waiting for the official documents from the Government's Office.
The minimum wage is set to be increased from the current 626,000 (Bt2,505) to 900,000 (Bt3,601.53). At present, Bt1 is equivalent to 249.89 kip.
Some officials said that raising the minimum wage may be officially announced and implemented after February. The government assured the National Assembly meeting on December 22 that the minimum wage would rise shortly. When introduced, the minimum pay rise will also be a key plank in the government's efforts to reduce the problem of Lao labour moving to neighbouring countries, mainly Thailand.
Vientiane Times reported that the ministry proposed to the government at the National Assembly session to raise the minimum wage as a way of improving the living conditions of Lao labourers. On the other hand, it also wants to reduce the number of Lao workers moving to work in other countries.
The minimum wage of labour in Laos began increasing in 2012, which started at 348,000 kip per month and increased to 626,000 kip per month.
However, some officials who do not want to be named said the minimum wage rate of 626,000 kip per month was not high enough because it was less than US$100 and the government needed to attract foreign investment.
Many Lao workers seek employment opportunities in neighbouring countries with legal and illegal migrant workers especially keen on Thailand as the wages are higher.
According to a recent ministry report, over 59,000 Lao employees are now working legally in Thailand through local labour hire companies after processing their documents with the Lao Department of Labour and Social Welfare.
The problem of Lao illegal migrant workers in Thailand was largely rectified after the authorities provided cards allowing Lao employees to work legally in Thailand.
Meanwhile more than 111,100 former illegal Lao workers have now received a card to work legally in Thailand after the registration drive in that country, which was carried out in conjunction with Lao officials.
However there are still an estimated 200,000 Lao employees working illegally in the kingdom, according to figures from the Thai Ministry of Labour.

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