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The Thai minimum wage cannot support three people, and therefore does not meet international standards, says a leading research institute.
 
The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) states that the Thai minimum wage of 300 baht a day does not meet International Labour Organization (ILO) standards of being sufficient to support three people. 
 
On Monday July 6, Yongyuth Chalamwong, labour development research director at TDRI, stated that three-person families in 61 provinces were at risk of dropping below the poverty line since the 300 baht per day minimum wage is insufficient to support them. 
 
Yongyuth said that there was public interest in whether or not the minimum wage would be raised in early 2016. However, there was a lack of research on whether 300 baht was sufficient to support and keep a family above the poverty line, he stated. Yongyuth and his research team found out that if a family had two members, they would be able to live off of 300 baht a day in any municipal area, province, or region in the country and stay above the poverty line.
 
However, Yongyuth stated, earning 300 baht a day without overtime cannot on average support three people, and being sufficient to support three people is the ILO standard for minimum wages. Three-person families in municipal areas in 61 out of 77 provinces were below the poverty line. Three-person families in these provinces who lived outside municipal areas, however, were able to support their families better than city families. 
 
However, the researcher noted that if there is a single wage-earner in a three-person family, then they will struggle to make ends meet on 300 baht. In fact, families in 38 out of 49 provinces live below the poverty line on an income of 300 baht a day, said the researcher.
 
In reality, a single wage-earner for a family usually finds extra work, while the spouse finds sources of extra income, said Yongyuth, adding that few families that are married and have a child have an adult at an entry-level job or a stay-at-home spouse.
 
However, the issue of the minimum wage is most worrying for temporary workers or day labourers in small to medium enterprises, said Yongyuth. These enterprises do not have a salary structure, so the entrepreneur just pays them the minimum wage, he says. 
 
The situation of labourers in the agricultural sector is especially worrying, said Yongyuth. According to the National Statistical Office, they are paid less than 250 baht per day, he said. 
 
“With that money and the need to support two other people, that family is guaranteed to fall into poverty.” 
 
Prime Minister Gen Prayut  Chan-o-cha stated on 8 June that raising the minimum wage would increase the flow of illegal immigrants seeking work while discouraging foreign investment in Thailand, so he asked people not to call for a wage increase. On the same day, the Ministry of Labour confirmed that the 300-baht minimum would stay put, although a floating wage system would be considered. 
 
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