More than four thousand trade unionists gathered at Sanam Luang park in central Bangkok yesterday (May 1, 2013) to mark Thailand Labour Day 2013 and hear Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promise to review a raft of workers rights and conditions demands raised by Thailand trade unions.
Amongst issues the trade unions want addressed are: a fund to insure workers in case of redundancy; a tax waiver on severance payments; more generous maternity pay; the establishment of day care centres in factories; a legal amendment to bring workers’ employment standards on a par to those of civil servants; and a halt to privatisation of state enterprises.
Ms Yingluck said that while her government had introduced policies that had benefited workers and society as a whole, there remained some significant labour issues which needed addressing. She also foreshadowed the possibility of an increase in the unemployment rate – officially 0.62% – in the first six months of this year as a result of the introduction of the Bt300 ($US10) per day minimum wage nationwide following its trial in seven provinces, including Bangkok, since April 2012.
Some 5.5 million people are employed in Thailand’s factories, services and trades industries and the Thailand government recently announced a stimulus package for the country’s 300,000-plus small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that is likely to cost it more than $US556 million in lost revenue to compensate for the increase in the Thailand minimum daily wage. (See: Stimulus package to offset Thailand minimum daily wage rise)
Prime Minister Yingluck also¬† agreed¬† to appointing a working group to compile a list of the problems faced by both mainstream and informal workers.
According to a 2011 survey by the National Statistical Office more than 64 per cent or about 24.6 million of Thailand’s 39 million-strong workforce work in the informal labour sector, including some 15.1 million people who work in the agriculture sector and not covered by legislation¬† such as minimum daily wages or social security cover. Of the remaining 15 million workers some 3 million are employed in the public service.
¬© 2013 John Le Fevre
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