MP pushes for greater unionization

PHUKET TOWN: The Chairman of Thailand’s Parliamentary Committee on Labor, Khon Kaen MP Premsak Pearyura, was in Phuket again yesterday, and once again found himself in the middle of controversy. In September last year K. Premsak hit the limelight for remarks he made at a seminar on work permits for foreigners. “Most of the foreigners [in Thailand] are small investors who take work from Thais,” he said in support of his advocacy for massive hikes in work permit fees. Yesterday he was in the spotlight as the main proponent for new labor relations legislation that would give workers more power. K. Premsak told a meeting at Provincial Hall, “After talking with employees here, the main problems seem to be employers laying off workers with no reasons given, or getting rid of employees who are only asking to be treated fairly. “It seems they they don’t want to see unions in their companies. I think that’s a very old-fashioned attitude. “Labor is capital,” K. Premsak added. “Employers should not regard unions as a bad thing or as a problem; and unions should think about working with management, as a team. “I want to see a win-win situation. I would like to see unions concentrating on creating profits both for their members and for the country,” he added. Vichit Dasanthat, chairman of the Phuket Federation of Hotel and Service Labor, said the federation will never support members who act aggressively toward employers. “The main problem we have right now is with hotels that are owned by local people, with ‘family-style’ management. They don’t want to accept unions and act against employees involved in unions; they put pressure on these employees to the point where the employee may overreact. That’s bad for the image of the province. “They seem to think we are terrorists in their company, that we will destroy the company. But we have no problems with hotels or companies managed along international lines because they know how to manage properly,” K. Vichit added. “Thailand has labor laws, but they are not being enforced,” he added. For example, he said, many hotels pay employees salaries that are below the minimum legal wage. “I would like to see employers having the common sense to follow the law, to make the law work.” The meeting, chaired by K. Premsak, brought together members of the Phuket Federation of Hotel and Service Labor, and labor organizations from Phang Nga and Krabi. Also present was Philip Robertson, Thailand Representative of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity. The meeting was held in order to gather opinions from employees likely to be affected by the proposed new labor relations legislation. Phuket is the sixth province in which such a meeting has been organized.

Phuket News
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