Lao minimum wage under debate

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Various sectors have met here in the capital to discuss the possibility of a raise to the minimum wage, according to state-run daily Vientiane Times on Monday.

Representatives from the Lao Federation of Trade Union, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare are debating the possible change. This would be the sixth minimum wage adjustment since 1991.

The wage rise is being considered to help better cater for the cost of living, to help people improve their living standards, and to counteract a labor shortage in the country.

In 2011 the minimum wage was adjusted to a figure of 626,000 Lao kip (77.93 U.S. dollars) per month. Following analysis of cost of living pressures and retail prices in Vientiane and three key provinces the union has proposed an increase to 800,000 Lao kip ( 99.59 U.S. dollars) per month.

The Lao Federation of Trade Union believes that the proposed increased figure would help attract workers to the private sector and help solve Laos' labor shortage.

According to Vientiane Times, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is concerned about the effect on business and investment if impacts of the proposal are not sufficiently examined or if relevant sectors and a broad cross-section of private enterprise are not consulted.

Calls have been made for the government to establish a goods pricing scheme for marketplaces so that traders will not unfairly and prematurely adjust their prices before the government makes a possible formal announcement.

According to Vientiane Times, most participants in the meeting agreed with a minimum wage rise but were looking for ways to soften any possible negative impact on the government and private sector.

While workers living on the minimum wage may be feeling the cost of living pressures, many industries such as electricity, construction and mining pay workers a higher amount than the proposed monthly 800,000 Lao kip wage. Endi

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