Minimum wage hike ‘will benefit migrant workers more than Thais’

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2024

A hike in the minimum daily wage would benefit migrant workers rather than Thai labourers, causing money to flow out of the country, according to the Suphanburi Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s president, Weera Tangwutthikraiwit, said on Saturday that a wage hike is a “double-edged sword”, as the downside leads to higher costs and impacts the salary system of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Weera said the benefits of a minimum wage increase would primarily go to migrant workers, as only 20% of those currently earning a minimum wage are Thai workers, while the remaining 80% are migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. 

“The benefits would go to migrant workers, and much of their salary would be sent back to their home countries, with less being spent within Thailand. For example, if they earn 20,000 baht per month, they might transfer 12,000 baht or more than half of it abroad,” he explained. 

According to the Foreign Work Administration Office, as of April 26 a total of 3.32 million migrants were working across the Kingdom. 

The five provinces with the highest number of migrant workers are: Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Chonburi, and Pathum Thani, most of whom are from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, data from the office shows. 

Weera said that most Thai workers already earn a higher daily wage than migrant workers and it usually exceeds 400 baht.

He said big firms would not face the same problem as smaller organisations, as they currently have robots and automation systems to replace human labour. 

Paying a minimum wage is becoming rare, as most jobs now require skilled labour, whose earnings are above the minimum level, he said.