IndustriALL condemns arrests of Thai union leaders

IndustriALL Global Union strongly condemns the Thai military government after it invoked new powers under the Public Assembly Act 2015 to arrest two union leaders in Bangkok yesterday (6 January). It followed a rally of 500 locked-out workers at Japanese-owned auto-part supplier Sanko Gosei outside the Ministry of Labour on 6 January. Chalee Loysoong, Vice President of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) and Amorndech Srimuang, President of the Sanko Gosei Workers Union, which is affiliated to IndustriALL through TEAM, had been taking part in mediation negotiations with the company at the Ministry of Labour while the workers were gathered outside.

IndustriALL condemns arrests of Thai union leaders

IndustriALL Global Union strongly condemns the Thai military government after it invoked new powers under the Public Assembly Act 2015 to arrest two union leaders in Bangkok yesterday (6 January).

It followed a rally of 500 locked-out workers at Japanese-owned auto-part supplier Sanko Gosei outside the Ministry of Labour on 6 January.

Chalee Loysoong, Vice President of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) and Amorndech Srimuang, President of the Sanko Gosei Workers Union, which is affiliated to IndustriALL through TEAM, had been taking part in mediation negotiations with the company at the Ministry of Labour while the workers were gathered outside.

At 19.00 three police units and military forces were used to break up the demonstrators who were planning to spend the night there. Shortly afterwards Loysoong and Srimuang were taken into custody.  Following considerable pressure from key national union figures who came to the Ministry of Labour in solidarity, they were later released.

“We are gravely concerned that the government is using the Public Assembly Act to curb the legitimate rights of workers to gather peacefully,” said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL. “This goes against all norms and international standards.”

The Public Assembly Act carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison for causing a disturbance or disruption of public services.

“Criminalizing and arresting trade union leaders is not going to resolve this dispute. The arrests are particularly disappointing considering our positive meeting in December at which the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Labour said the government shared IndustriALL’s will to protect the rights of workers,” added Raina.

In October 2015, IndustriALL filed an official complaint to the International Labour Organization against the government of Thailand for serious violation of trade union rights.

More than 600 Sanko Gosei workers, who are all union members, have been locked out after negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement and bonuses broke down. The company claims that it is unprofitable. In the meantime, casual workers have been brought in to replace the locked out workers.

The Sanko Gosei Workers Union accuses the company of using the dispute to bust the union and replace permanent workers with subcontractors. 

The Minister of Labour, General Sirichai Distakul, has reportedly promised to attend the next mediation meeting between the union and the company.

Read more here.