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30 April 2013
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‘Many left out of labour schemes’

The country’s labour-protection schemes have hardly reached informal workers and farmers.

“There is a big gap between registered and unregistered workers,” Yongyuth Chalamwong of the Thailand Development Research Institute’s centre for labour development said yesterday.

The Social Security Fund focuses on registered workers while the Workmen’s Compensation Fund benefits only full-time workers.

“But in fact, many people are seasonal workers and part-time workers. These people are housemaids, fishing-trawler crew and farmers,” he said.

It is high time the country developed a fair and comprehensive labour-protection net to cover all these people, Yongyuth said.

“Of all those farming, only 10 per cent will have enough savings to support themselves when they grow too old to work.”

While the government was successful in raising the daily minimum wage to Bt300, millions of people do not have adequate access to labour protection, he said.

Chalee Loysoong, president of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, said his committee and allies would on Labour Day, which is tomorrow, push for better protection of workers.

“One of the demands is that the government must urgently develop mechanisms to protect unregistered as well as migrant workers,” he said.

Even registered workers are not all happy with the new Bt300 minimum wage. Nearly half of workers in Greater Bangkok have not found their lives getting any better after the increase, according to a survey by the Bangkok University Research Centre.

Of the respondents aged at least 18, 46 per cent said their lives were pretty much the same. Some 10 per cent even felt their lives growing worse.

On the reasons for the lack of improvement in their lives, 86 per cent said commodity prices had gone up. Some 7 per cent complained that benefits provided by employers had deteriorated. More than 4 per cent felt their jobs had suddenly become insecure and they might lose them at any time.

Compared with the 2012 survey, the proportion of workers feeling their lives getting better plunged by 16.5 percentage points to just 44 per cent this year.

The daily minimum wage of Bt300 went into effect in Greater Bangkok last year. It is now in effect nationwide.

Of all the respondents to the 2013 Bangkok Poll, 75 per cent were not natives of Greater Bangkok. Of them, most said they would go back to their home provinces if there were similar jobs there.


Yongyuth Chalamwong, Ph.D.
Research Director, Labor Development