The Pheu Thai Party has clarified its election campaign promise to lift the daily minimum wage to 600 baht after it ran into heavy criticism, saying the wage will be raised only when the economy is back on track.
The wage hike promise has come under fire from critics including Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
Paetongtarn Shinawatra, head of the Pheu Thai “family”, held a press conference on Wednesday, a day after the party unveiled its controversial campaign promise, to explain the issue.
Ms Paetongtarn, the youngest daughter of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, said the Yingluck Shinawatra government raised the minimum wage hike to 300 baht about 10 years ago, but it has only been increased slightly since then.
“Capitalism must have a heart … The wage will be raised when the economy is ready.
“But right now, that is unthinkable because the economy still isn’t faring well. If it does better, the system will be able to function,” she said. “Employers and employees must grow together. The hike to 600 baht is intended to boost the whole system.”
On Tuesday, Ms Paetongtarn made the wage guarantee part of her vision for the country’s future in the next four years if the party wins a mandate to form a government after the next general election.
Gen Prayut said on Tuesday the wage hike would be easier said than done. Future ramifications must be considered in formulating a policy, he said, adding it must be vetted by a tripartite committee of workers, employers and the state.
Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said employers’ ability to afford such a hike must be taken into account. He said many entrepreneurs running SMEs struggled when the minimum wage was raised to 300 baht in 2011, and some large industries moved their production bases to other countries as a result.