ITF increases pressure on Thai railway managers
Protest rally by Thai railway workers
The ITF has stepped up pressure on Thai railway managers, following the launch of a website protest campaign. The move responds to reports of further anti-union intimidation by the railway company and a government minister.
Signatories of the online campaign, which was launched on the Labourstart website on 8 February, are demanding that the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) desist from escalating its conflict with the ITF-affiliated State Railway Union of Thailand (SRUT). So far, more than 3,000 signatures have been collected.
The campaign was set up after the SRT submitted a charter of demands to the SRUT, revoking important aspects of the collective bargaining agreement relating to rail safety. The charter was then withdrawn within few days, after employees expressed concern about its possible consequences. In November 2009, pressure from the SRT led to a number of union members signing a petition against the union leadership; this resulted in an extra-ordinary meeting of the union on 3 February 2010, where management attempts to undermine the union were roundly defeated.
Last year six railway workers were dismissed for participating in industrial action over safety following a fatal accident; a tripartite panel voted against the dismissals in January 2010. The transport minister, however, immediately raised objections and instructed the SRT to take the case to court. The ITF is calling on the SRT to review any such move.
In a letter dated 5 February, Øystein Aslaksen, ITF railway workers’ section chair and president of the Norwegian Locomotive Drivers’ Union told SRT governor Yutthana Thapcharoen: “The ITF, once again, calls upon the SRT to stop its anti-union policies towards the SRUT and to start building a sound industrial relationship.” He added that the ITF would submit a complaint to the International Labour Organization (ILO) freedom of association committee “where your government and your organization will be subject to further scrutiny from the ILO”.
“Should you cease your hostility and aggression towards the SRUT, the ITF is prepared to assist your organization in rebuilding a better industrial relationship and social dialogue with the union and to restore and improve the reputation of your organization globally,” he added.