Exploiting Thai Labour

4 06 2012

Have you noticed how people in a particular line of business usually know lots of other people in the same line of business? Well it’s the same here in Thailand. For example, most owners of cooking schools and instructors tend to know each other, it’s sort of a small but exclusive club. Of course, part of their authenticity is that they are owned and run by Thai people.

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Not that long ago, an American guy decided to start a Thai cooking school here and employed an instructor fairly well known within the business. Unfortunately for himself, this guy has, as long as I have known him, allowed people to walk all over him. When the American guy started the business, I am told that he knew almost nothing about Thai cooking. It seems strange to me to start a business that you know nothing about but……..However, the owner seems to be very good at marketing so soon had plenty of customers. Despite his success, he paid his instructor a pittance based on his belief that, because this is Thailand, he could always get somebody else to do it if necessary.
Last year, he approached a Thai cooking school owner/instructor (who I know rather well) via his instructor to ask her if she would do some teaching for him. She told him her hourly fees which are about average for somebody with her experience and qualifications. He immediately backed off, saying it was too expensive. That’s okay, no problem – she is far too sensible to let somebody like him exploit her.

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Last week, he asked her to meet with him to discuss some possible work. Again, no problem – he knows her fees which, for any business person with half a brain would be one of the most important bases for discussion. Once he had got her to travel into Bangkok and meet him, he offered her a pittance – 1,000 baht for eight hours work. When she all but laughed in his face, he told her in all seriousness that that is all a Thai person could expect to get paid and I wonder if he would work for that sort of money. How incredibly disrespectful of the people whose country he now lives in to have that attitude. And how disrespectful of others to waste their time and money setting up a meeting like that when (as he admitted) he had no intention of paying her price.

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On his website he misspells the name of his chief instructor, Nut. It is only three letters so shouldn’t be too difficult to get right. For the basic course, which most people going to cooking schools go for, he charges 1,500 baht for a four hour session – about average. At the meeting, he boasted that he pays Nut less than the 1,000 baht for 8 hours he was offering so that means he gets less than 500 baht. It doesn’t say on the website how many customers he will take although most schools do. One photo shows eight people receiving certificates so that suggests a take of 12,000 baht. Of which his chief instructor gets less than 500 baht. Now, is that exploitation or is it exploitation? What a cimex!

By the way, if you’d like a list of Thai cooking schools which treat their staff  with respect and dignity, I’ll be happy to oblige – just contact me via the comments.

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2 responses

12 07 2012
fashionski@yahoo.com

where did you take up your cooking class in bangkok? Ill be in bangkok and looking for a cooking class with certificate 🙂 hope you can help me. thank you

15 07 2012
Ben Salmons

Hi Fashionski
My wife and I have our own Thai cooking school so I’m obviously biased in our favour – that’s http://www.gapthai.com . However, most cooking schools here are perfectly okay. Regarding a certificate, it depends what you want. The main market for Thai cooking schools is for recreational cooking and I think that all schools offer a certificate. However, that’s only to say you did a short course there and maybe stating that, for example, you cooked a 3 course meal from scratch.
If you want vocational cooking lessons, again most schools offer those and their instructors are perfectly capable of providing appropriate lessons but if you want a recognized certificate from a vocational course then I suggest you try Wandee cooking school whose professional course is recognized by the Thai Ministry of Education – they are at http://www.wandeethaicooking.com It’s quite expensive but the training is good and many of the other cooking school’s instructors trained there.
Hope that answers your question, if not do get back to me!

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