Bangkok workers rally for better employment conditions and against privatisation

Picture courtesy of transbordernews

World Day for Decent Work was marked by a significant rally in Bangkok, where approximately 600 workers rallied for their cause. The protestors demanded the government address unjust employment conditions and enhance employment security.

The rally, which took place along Ratchadamnoen Avenue, saw the participation of members from the Thai Labour Solidarity Confederation (TLSC), the State Enterprises Workers’ Relations Confederation (SERC), and the International Labour Organisation Convention Mobility Network.

Sawit Kaewwan, the leader of TLSC, voiced the concerns of labour groups during the gathering. Their demands were clear, they want the government and Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn to eliminate short-term employment and labour contracts across both public and private sectors.

The collective also wants the government to halt any plans to privatise state enterprises dealing with energy, transport, banking, and telecommunication.

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According to Sawit, the government should operate state enterprises to keep public utility prices low, which in turn would reduce production costs and household expenses. He proposed that the government should consider the State Enterprise Development Bill put forward by SERC, which provides an alternative approach to shaping up state enterprises instead of privatising them, reported Bangkok Post.

Somporn Kwannet, a TLSC adviser, stated that more companies are employing contract workers. However, these contracts do not guarantee comprehensive benefits or job stability.

Osot Suwansawet, president of the Government Employee Union of Thailand, provided a personal perspective. As a public health contract worker at Maharaj Hospital in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Suwansawet is earning minimum wage and is a Social Security Fund subscriber. However, he does not have access to pensions or layoff compensation.

The Ministry of Public Health hires over 200,000 contract workers in public hospitals across the country. Yet, welfare benefits, which labour advocates have been demanding for over two decades, are not provided by their employers.

A 23-year-old contract worker at a factory in Chon Buri, Tang, shared his personal experience. He earns about 18,000 baht (US$487) a month, whereas permanent staff in the same position earn over 30,000 baht (US$812). He considers this disparity unfair.

“The company pays an annual bonus to permanent workers worth over 10,000 baht (US$270) each. [Contract workers] also contribute to the company’s profits but we are not eligible to receive benefits equally.”

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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