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Phuket Workers Expecting to See Daily Pay Rise on Monday

Phuket Workers Expecting to See Daily Pay Rise on Monday

Thursday, April 26, 2012
PHUKET: Any serious disgruntlement among Phuket's estimated 200,000 Burmese workers is likely to surface on Monday, when monthly pay for all employees is due to reflect the new 300 baht daily minimum wage for the first time.

Phuket and six Bangkok-centred provinces are pioneering the new national daily rate, which was introduced on April 1 and will spread to other provinces before 2013.

Rumbles of discontent have been heard among Burmese migrant workers in factories in other parts of Thailand about pay and conditions, including some involving goods destined for the large American retail conglomerate, Wal-Mart.

On Phuket, it's believed many Burmese do not know their rights and may not be aware that all workers, both from Thailand and other countries, are entitled to the new minimum wage.

When the old minimum of 221 baht a month was introduced last year, Phuket rated as the most expensive place to live in Thailand. The consumer price index is believed to have increased since then.

Legal Burmese workers on Phuket are obliged by their documentation to work with a single employer. Illegal workers may not feel restricted in their employment options.

Whether they are expecting a pay rise on Monday may depend on what kind of pay rate and conditions they have negotiated illegally.

If legal Burmese workers were free to change employers quickly, a drift could be expected from the neighboring provinces of Phang Nga and Krabi to better-paid employment on Phuket.

However, contacts in the Burmese community say that it's not unusual for Burmese construction workers to already be paid 250 baht a day. No flow-on pay rise is expected in the Thai fishing industry, where human trafficking, slave labor and rights abuses are frequently reported.

Kittipong Laonipong, Director of the Department of Labor Ptotection and Welfare on Phuket, said that illegal Burmese workers in other provinces could certainly be eyeing jobs on Phuket - but only if employers paid their illegal workers the new legal minimum.

Police and Immigration officials would have to intervene and enforce the law if such a trend became discernable, he said. Many illegal workers on Phuket pay bribes to stay here.

Htoo Chit, the region's spokesperson for Burmese workers, says he does not expect to see a rapid change in the relationship between Phuket employers and their workers.

''Many Burmese are delighted at the new approaches being shown by the government back in Burma,'' he said. ''But for most, there are not enough new jobs being created there to think about going back yet.''

Wal-Mart, which has undertaken to follow its strict code of principles and investigate allegations about mistreatment of workers at one of its Thai suppliers, has at the same time faced strong criticism this week after the New York Times alleged a corruption coverup as the US retail giant expanded its business across Mexico.

Comments

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I for one, hope that every poor sod who has to spend 12 hrs/day, 30/days a month (because these are about the only jobs that even pay under 300 baht per day to my understanding) doing work that most of us wouldn't even consider, get their 3 wrinkly notes a day. Personally I think they deserve 4 - but then what would I know, I'm not a capitalist economist with only the maximising of profit on my mind, I just see what I see - and it's not fair. We might need to increase wages in the future anyway if Burma actually follows through with the reforms. Here's hoping.

Posted by James on April 26, 2012 18:42

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12 hours per day? Nobody works 12 hours per day, not even the illegal burmese workers. And certainly not 30 day per month. Where do you get this infomation? Or is it something you just made up?

Posted by christian on April 26, 2012 19:37

Editor Comment:

christian, time you did some research. Perhaps you've never bought fried chicken from a store where the sole cook and saleslady is there, 12 hours a day or more, seven days a week?

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There could be massive repercussions for Thailand if Myanmar opens up fully & all the migrant workers return home to better paid jobs in their own country. Then some of the tuk tuk drivers, beach mafia, motor bike taxi drivers, etc. might have to take up a real job to earn a crust.[lol] Or will Thailand simply find some other impoverished country from which to import slave labour?

Posted by Logic on April 26, 2012 23:33

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I don't agree with what is said that is not unusual for the Burmese to be paid 250 Baht today is totally tish.

Working at construction sites, I regularly ask the workers how much they get and its between 125 and 200 baht per day.

Maybe what the government should have done, instead of raising the minimum wage was reducing the working hours from 48 to 40 per week. This way the companies who need the overtime staff will have the demand and will pay them more.

Posted by Tbs on April 27, 2012 07:29

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The law in Thailand is 40 hrs per week and 8 hours per day, if you do more than 8 hours you then go on to overtime rates @ double time, should an employer not follow that the employee can lodge a complaint with the labour department. Today is May the 1st and a public holiday in Thailand celebrating what? The 8 hour day and 40 hour week.
Ed I would think your chicken cookers are 2 things, either owner operators or else they will be on OT rates of pay once they clock up 8 hours.

Posted by coxo on May 1, 2012 13:05

Editor Comment:

The self-employed are allowed to work themselves to death, coxo. And even expats in slave labor positions on Phuket still work untold hours of unpaid overtime.

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"The self employed are allowed to work themselves to death" Yes Ed they are and that is there choice, they believe they will make more money, so what is your point? I have been self employed most of my working life and done 60+ hours per week, that has been my choice, I did'nt have to but liked the extra money so I did it.
"And even expats in slave labour positions work untold hours of unpaid overtime" Ed If an expat has a work permit he then works under Thai law, he or she can go to the dept of labour and air their grevinces. I think most accept any conditions just to stay here so they can live the dream, again a choice made by the individual, you are always free to go home if your not making money or happy.
I dont quite know what your getting at Ed, maybe commenting just for the sake of it?
What I wrote are facts, like it or lump it lifes a bitch so best to just get on with it!

Posted by coxo on May 1, 2012 14:50

Editor Comment:

We published the article, coxo. You are the one struggling to make some kind of point, and failing dismally. Please don't burden us with your self-satisfied preaching.

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Come on Ed get real, I have made a point very easy to understand, if working here you are under Thai law, period, you dont like it then go home! I have lived and worked here for over 16 years and have a fair understanding of surviving here. Lets see what other readers think but I think your comments might be rambling a little and not making any clear logic or sense.

Posted by coxo on May 1, 2012 15:12

Editor Comment:

The article is about Burmese workers. Do you really think your observations apply to them? Have you been living in some kind of idyllic enclave where there aren't people selling chicken endlessly or making do in a thousand other ways, seven days a week? How can you spend 16 years somewhere and not see the reality? To quote the law and say ''go home if you don't like it'' is not exactly an original response, coxo. I hope that makes logic and sense.

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You are good at the curve ball Ed, sure your article concerns the Burmese, my last two comments are directly related to your comments only, not the article as you well know.
A Burmese worker is not an expat as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by coxo on May 1, 2012 19:22

Editor Comment:

Well, that says it all, coxo. Thanks for the explanation.


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