ITF signals further breakdown on Thai Railways
ITF: 5 February 2010
The head of a delegation that investigated problems for workers’ on Thailand’s state railways has reacted angrily to news that conditions and morale have deteriorated further
Øystein Aslaksen, ITF Railway Workers’ Section Chair and President of the Norwegian Locomotive Drivers’ Union today wrote to the head of the State Railway of Thailand to register his and the ITF’s dissatisfaction with the deteriorating situation on the country’s railways. Aslaksen headed an international delegation of railway trade unionists who went to the country last month to investigate reports of poor rail safety standards and anti-union practices by employers and the government (see www.itfglobal.org/press-area/index.cfm/pressdetail/4075 for details.)
Writing to Yutthana Thapcharoen of the State Railway of Thailand, Øystein Aslaksen stated:
“I am writing to you on behalf of the ITF Safety Mission that we organised in Thailand in January 2010 and as the Chair of the ITF Railway Workers' Section, representing 1.2 million workers in 92 countries globally, to express our serious concern over the attitude of the SRT towards the State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT).
The Mission made it very clear in our meeting with your Deputy Governor, Prachak Manodham and later at our press conference on 15 January in Bangkok that the SRT management must cease its current anti-union stance towards SRUT and establish a co-operative industrial relationship with the SRUT and its members. The goal should be for SRT and SRUT to both strive to improve the safety standards within the Thai railways. In this regard, the ITF General Secretary, David Cockroft, wrote to the Thai Prime Minister on 18 January requesting your organisation to stop its anti-union activities and respect and fully implement the decision of the Tripartite Panel on 15 January, which voted against the dismissal of the six Branch officials of the SRUT in Hat Yai.
Despite the requests of the ITF Safety Mission and the ITF General Secretary, the SRT, with the suspected involvement of your Transport Minister, has continued with further actions against the union. On 21 January, your organisation suddenly submitted a charter of 65 demands to the SRUT designed to revoke the important aspects of the collective bargaining agreements pertaining to rail safety. It was then withdrawn on 25 January as the employees of your organisation correctly expressed their deep concern with regards the possible and potential consequences that such demands, if implemented, could bring to the workplaces.
We also have reason to believe that some union members were influenced by your senior management to sign a petition against the current SRUT leadership in November 2009. This resulted in an extra-ordinary meeting of the union being held on 3 February 2010.
History demonstrates that all attempts by management to interfere with the democratic procedures of a genuine trade union are bound to fail. SRT’s attempts were in fact defeated firmly by the members at the union’s extra-ordinary meeting.
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. We will condemn your move to take the dismissal case to court, and as we have repeatedly expressed explicitly and publicly, such action will be met by stronger protest from trade unions around the world and the ITF will submit a complaint to the ILO's Freedom of Association Committee where your government and your organisation 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 organisation in rebuilding a better industrial relationship and social dialogue with the union and to restore and improve the reputation of your organisation globally.”.
For more information contact ITF press officer, Sam Dawson.
Direct line: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260.