Policymakers in Laos are studying a proposal to rise the country’s minimum wage as inflation and an increasing cost of living bites particularly low-earners, Laotian Times reported.
The current minimum wage of 1.1 million kip ($97) per month, which is in effect since the latest increase in mid-2018, would be raised to 1.5 million kip ($134), as per a proposal by the Lao Federation of Trade Unions.
If legally implemented, the pay rise would take effect in March this year.
Phonesane Vilaymeng, the federation’s vice president, said that the cost of living has continued to increase, with higher prices at markets directly affecting low-wage employees in the country.
Rising costs of living
“The high cost of living affects thousands of workers across the country working in four sectors, namely agriculture, industry, services and construction,” Vilaymeng noted.
The Lao Federation of Trade Unions, as well as the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will hold a final discussion on the potential increase and are expected to announce their decision in due course, according to Vilaymeng.
Laos’ government last raised the minimum wage on May 1, 2018, from 900,000 kip ($80) to 1,100,000 kip per month.
Wages still low in comparison, except Myanmar
In comparison to other developing countries in the region, the current minimum wage for regular workers in Cambodia is currently $192 per month, in Myanmar 4,800 kyat ($2.70) per day, which sums up to a meagre $65 monthly for a six-day working week, and in Vietnam between 3,070,000 dong ($136) and 4,200,000 dong ($185), depending on the region.
Indonesia has a wide range of minimum wages of between 1,765,000 rupiah ($123) in less developed regions and 4,416,186 rupiah ($307) per month in the capital Jakarta.
In the Philippines, the minimum wage depends on the type of work (agricultural or non-agricultural) and also on the region. The range is currently between 303 pesos ($5.93) and 537 pesos ($11.51) per day, which results in a monthly wage of roughly between $142 and $276 for a six-day working week per month.
Better developed countries Thailand and Malaysia have also set the minimum wage according to the region. Thailand currently pays between 313 baht (9.37) and 336 baht ($10.06), a worker thus takes home between $225 and $241 per month for a six-day working week.
The monthly minimum wage in 56 major cities in Malaysia is 1,200 ringgit ($286), whereas the minimum wage in non-urban areas and rural towns is 1,100 ringgit ($263).
Singapore and Brunei do not have a general minimum wage. However, Singapore last year has set a minimum wage for companies that hire foreign workers of at least 1,400 Singapore dollars ($1,033) a month for full-timers and $9 an hour for part-time which is mainly aimed at improving the income for low-skilled workers such as cleaners or security guards.