Lao unions blow whistle on minimum wage cheats

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Trade unions have blown the whistle on a large amount of businesses that have still not complied with minimum wage increase, Lao state-run daily Vientiane Times reported online Wednesday.

The country's primary worker protection body the Federation of Trade Unions estimates that only half of the businesses in the capital Vientiane have observed the pay rise. In provincial areas the organization believes that only 20 to 30 percent of businesses are in compliance.

The policy was instituted to assist workers with adjusting cost of living pressures.

Many businesses claim not to know about the increased minimum wage despite the regulation having been introduced almost two years ago and came into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

Samanexay Khanthanouxay, Federation Worker Protection Department Deputy Director General says that businesses are fully aware of the legislation and are intentionally not increasing wages.

The breaches are a result of insufficient action to investigate workplaces and inadequate prosecution of those found in breach of the legislation, he said.

The federation says that employees in garment factories and on farms are the most likely workers to be underpaid.

According to Lao government stipulation, from the beginning of 2012, the monthly minimum wage would increase from 348,000 kip ( around 45 U.S. dollars) to 626,000 kip (some 80 U.S. dollars). Employers are also required to pay an 8,500 kip (some 1.1 U.S. dollars) meal allowance per day. Endi

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