Businesses used Thai flood crisis to get rid of workers, labour groups say
The Nation February 8, 2012Feb 13, 2012
"Employers used last year's flood crisis in Thailand to lay off at least 3,000 blue-collar workers", according to Patchanee Kumnak, coordinator of the Thai Labour Campaign, in a recent interview with Thai newspaper The Nation. She added that many workers from Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces who had lost their jobs sought help from provincial governors and the Labour Ministry, but to no avail. She also accused some businesses of exploiting the flood crisis in Thailand to crack down on labour unions.
Businesses used flood crisis to get rid of workers, labour groups say
The Nation February 8, 2012 1:00 am
Employers used last year's flood crisis to lay off at least 3,000 blue-collar workers, Patchanee Kumnak, coordinator of the Thai Labour Campaign, said recently.
She added that many workers from Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani provinces who had lost their jobs sought help from provincial governors and the Labour Ministry, but to no avail.
"Things have been very slow," Patchanee said.
She also accused some businesses of exploiting the flood crisis to crack down on labour unions. Chalee On-soong, president of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, acknowledged that in some cases, key labour leaders were made redundant during the period.
"Yes, you can say that the situation was exploited," Chalee said. "If all union leaders are gone it's tantamount to the destruction of labour unions."
Saeng-arun Kaenpetch, a union leader at an electronics factory in Pathum Thani province's Nava Nakorn Industrial Estate, said she along with other labour-union leaders had been fired even though the Labour Court has yet to approve the terminations.
She said the Labour Court was trying to resolve the conflict by telling her and her colleagues to accept the compensation that is required by law and that it would be pointless to return to work because their employers no longer wanted them. She said she had also been told that she would be mistreated at the factory, which is owned by a firm from a Southeast Asian country.
However, she insists that she has the right to return to her previous job and that at 38 years of age, she would find it difficult to land a new job with a similar pay package.
"I am getting old and will not be able to find a [factory] job elsewhere." She said many of her colleagues had been removed during the flood in December and that some had lost contact with one another, making it difficult to make a collective effort.
She added that some of the workers who got their jobs back had been put on the minimum-wage level rather than the pay scale they were at earlier.
Chalee, meanwhile, said the authorities would not listen if the workers did not start staging protests as a collective force, adding that it would be a while before the Labour Court or the Labour Ministry did anything.
"But if they don't push the government, then it will not see things through. They need to go back again and again and demand action," Chalee said.
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