The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its affiliate, the State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT) are demanding the Thai rail management (SRT) stop its anti-union practices and improve its industrial relationship with the union. Six union officials in the Hat Yai Branch were unfairly dismissed in October 2009 for taking part in national industrial action. Union members refused to drive unsafe trains after a fatal accident had occurred. The driver in the crash had fallen asleep on duty because he had been working for a month with only one rest day. Background to this incident are the lack of investment and a large-scale reduction of jobs in the SRT by the government. To investigate the dismissal case and to study the safety conditions in the SRT, the ITF sent its mission to Bangkok and Hat Yai in January 2010. Based on its findings, the team recommended the management to (a) reinstate the dismissed workers; (b) stop further victimisation of union officials; (c) drop the law suit for damages filed against the union and (d) build a new safety culture in the Thai railways with the workers and the union where whistle-blowers are not penalised. The ITF visit coincided with the meeting of the State Enterprise Labour Relations Committee, which was investigating the dismissal case. On 15 January, this tripartite panel voted 5 to 4 against the management’s decision. Nevertheless, the Transport Minister is pushing the SRT to take the case to court. In the meantime, the SRT tried to revoke the collective bargaining agreemtnt but was forced to withdraw its proposals within days, after being confronted with a very unpopular response from the workplaces. The management has only a week left to submit the case to court. Now is the time to act and urge them to stop this.
Interested in helping Thai railway workers in a concrete fashion? Click through HERE and send an email to the Governor of the State Railway of Thailand.