Taiwanese businesspeople in Bangkok fear wage hikes and labor shortages

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Dec 31, 2012 - Page 13

A planned nationwide increase in Thailand’s minimum daily wage has Taiwanese businesses there worried that it will be even harder to find workers next year in an already tight job market.

“There have been many workers in Bangkok who have ended their rental agreements in preparation for returning to their hometowns to work,” Thai-Taiwan Business Association president Norman Chang (張峰豪) said.

When the minimum daily wage is increased to 300 baht (US$9.8), it will make sense for workers to return to work in their hometowns in provinces where daily wages are currently 150 baht to 200 baht, Chang said.

Aside from earning a more competitive wage, the workers will also benefit by saving money on housing and food and will simultaneously be able to help their families with farm work, Chang said.

“Companies in the greater Bangkok area may have to offer a wage higher than minimum wage to be able to recruit new workers,” he said.

However, the planned wage hike is not the only factor that could limit the supply of workers in Thailand’s capital.

The country’s growing service and tourism sectors are already absorbing large numbers of people working in the manufacturing sector, said Thailand-based Taiwanese businessman Wang Wen-shan (王文山), who is also the chairman of Jinpao Precision Industry Co (經寶精密), which operates a metal stamping factory in the Bangkok suburbs southeast of the city.

In recent years, many shopping malls have opened around the country and have proved more attractive to Thai workers than doing manual labor, he said.

“Thai people prefer working in the services sector rather than in factories,” Wang said.

Thai Feng Co (泰豐公司) manager director Kuo Hsiu-min (郭修敏), a Taiwanese businesswoman based in Thailand, said she has also seen many shopping malls and hypermarkets opening in the provinces outside Bangkok over the past three years.

That and a prospering tourism sector have lured many Thai workers away from factories, she said.

Kuo estimated that the greater Bangkok area is suffering a shortage of around 200,000 workers.