18 January 2010
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has welcomed the findings of an industrial relations body in Thailand that railway union officials who took part in industrial action should not be dismissed.
On Friday, Thailand's tripartite State Enterprise Labour Relations Committee voted on five to four against the sackings of six union officials of the Hat Yai Branch of the ITF-affiliated State Railway Workers' Union of Thailand (SRUT).
The trade unionists were suspended on 28 October 2009 after taking part in industrial action that was geared to highlight urgent safety concerns on the railways.
The committee finding came at the end of a week-long mission by a high-level ITF delegation that visited Thailand to investigate this case and monitor safety standards in the railways. The ITF delegation welcomed the decision and urged the railway company to respect it by reinstating the six workers immediately.
“This is clearly the right decision; we sincerely hope the railway company sees sense and refrains from appealing” said ITF inland transport sections secretary Mac Urata.
Urata added that the ITF was also demanding that the company withdraw the US$9.1 million damages claim that it made against the union following the October stoppages.
“The company must redress its anti-union policy. Any further victimisation of the rail union and its members will be met with strong international protests” he said.
The ITF mission concluded that the company needed to promote good industrial relations and a positive safety culture that involved unions and it called on railway management to work together with railway workers and their union to this end. It also urged the company immediately to install critical of safety equipment.