On March 22, 2013, Mrs. Narumol Thandamrong, Advisor to the Minister of Labour, launched Ministry of Labour’s mobile projects to provide knowledge about wage laws and help business operators access the government’s measures designed to assist firms that might be affected by the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy and enhance their capability in Nakhon Phanom and Sakon Nakhon provinces. During the visit, she also met with local SME operators and gave them morale support. No major impact of the policy was found to have affected local firms.
Mrs. Narumol said the project is part of the policies of Mr. Phadermchai Sasomsub, Minister of Labour, to enhance SME operators’ knowledge about the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy and minimum wage to ensure their compliance of the policy, and to help firms enhance their competitiveness and find access to the government’s measures designed to assist firms that might be affected by the policy and enhance SMEs’ capability.
The project also covers public hearing on impact of the policy. It provides a platform for business operators to exchange views with government officials and jointly work out solutions to prevent layoff and shutdown of business.
Mrs. Narumol said the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy has been implemented since January 1 and it has helped firms to stay alert and prepare for the formation of the ASEAN Community in the next two years. The government is determined to find out and address problems caused by the policy and continue assist SMEs find loan sources, increase their products and solve other problems.
On her first stop in Nakhon Phanom province, Mrs. Narumol chaired a workshop to hear problems, exchange views and experience and discuss solutions to impacts of the policy from local SME operators. The workshop was part of the Ministry of Labour’s mobile project. The advisor to the Minister of Labour also visited Nakae Pongjareon Rice Mill.
In Nakhon Phanom, there are a total of 1,205 firms, which employ 13,956 workers. Of them, 1,197 are SMEs. No firms have been forced to shut down following the implementation of the minimum wage policy.
On her second stop in Sakon Nakhon province, Mrs. Narumol chaired a similar workshop, which was also attended by local SME operators. In Sakon Nakhon, there are a total of 1,806 firms, which employ 13,956 workers. Of them, 1,739 are medium sized enterprise and 67 are small sized enterprises.
According to data from Ministry of Commerce’s Sakon Nakhon Provincial Business Development Office, a total of 98 new firms were registered while 26 firms closed their business during October 2012 and February 2013 period. Most of those firms, who went out of businesses, had stopped operating long before they made the registration due to their uncompetitiveness. During the January-February 2013, some firms also went out of businesses but the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy was not the cause of their shut down.
In both provinces, firms that are able to comply with policy have reduced their operational costs. They try to reduce the company’s activities, adjust employment condition, be strict on quality of work and increase discipline at workplace. Workers are also encouraged to work on voluntary basis. Firms, meanwhile, ask the government to reduce their burden through tax measures, cut loan interest, control prices of capital such as fuel and electricity and help them access to local sources.
Provincial labour offices and Ministry of Labour’s local agencies have worked together in carrying out the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy and collecting data about workers and employers who are affected by the policy. So far, no workers have been laid off while there have been no business shutdown due to the policy.
Provincial social security offices have distributed instructions about the 300 baht daily minimum wage policy to 2,600 firms which has more than one employee, held meetings to clarify employers, employees about the policy, held meetings with Ministry of Labour’s agencies, Sakon Nakhon Chamber of Commerce and Sakon Nakhon Federation of Industries and implemented emergency measures including extending officials hours to 6 pm from Monday-Friday and between 9am-4pm on Saturday and coordinating with chamber of commerce, federation of industries, banks and relevant agencies in getting data about labour situation.