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Staff protest continues at Blue Canyon

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Staff protest continues at Blue Canyon | The Thaiger

MAI KHAO: For the past three weeks, some 100 staff of the Blue Canyon Country Club (BCCC) have spent their mornings protesting in front of the golf course, claiming its new management has threatened them by placing them on indefinite, unpaid leave.

The management refutes their claims, however, saying the work suspension is only temporary and part of management restructuring, and that all workers continue to receive their salaries.

The Appeals Court in Bangkok on February 22 overturned an earlier ruling by Phuket Provincial Court and awarded control of Murex Co Ltd, BCCC’s holding company, to a group of Thai shareholders aligned with Singaporean investor Sia Leng Yuen.

The Phuket Court had earlier ruled in favor of a rival group of shareholders led by Rawat Chindapol, a Phuket native and a founder of both BCCC and Murex.

Protester Prasit Intarat told the Gazette that on February 25 more than 100 of the club’s 400 employees were put on forced leave without pay.

Murex announced they would not be paid for February, he claimed.

The protest has nothing to do with the legal dispute between the old and new management of Murex. The staff are happy to work for anyone who will pay them and treat them fairly, K. Prasit said.

The 100 protesters include personnel ranging from caddies to department heads, he added.

The protesters have been standing on Thepkrasattri Rd in front of the golf course for a few hours every morning, bearing a variety of signs in Thai and English.

One of the sign reads: “Mommy, I am hungry for milk”; another: “We the employees of Blue Canyon don’t want foreign management”.

“On February 25, we asked the executive board if we could resume normal work, but we have not received an answer. We have also asked for help from the Phuket Provincial Labor Office (PPLO), but we have not heard anything from them either,” K. Prasit said.

“I just want to know how long we have to wait. They said they will not pay us because they were just reinstated on February 22. We need the management to be responsible because the staff members have monthly bills to pay. All of the staff who have been put on unpaid leave are really suffering, but the executive board doesn’t care.

“We are holding a peaceful demonstration and we don’t want to discredit the club. Each day we go home and come back the next morning to ask for fairness. I think they should give us some type of answer,” he said.

If a suitable solution was not found soon, the protesters would file a complaint at the Damrongtham Center at Phuket Provincial Office, he said.

In a fax received by the Gazette from Murex, the company’s Public Relations Consultant Jaroon Chujan sharply refuted the protesters’ claims.

The work suspension is only a temporary measure during restructuring and all the payroll employees have continued to receive salaries and welfare benefits. Murex had never received complaints from BCCC employees about failure to receive salaries, he wrote.

On February 29, Murex management posted a notice instructing any staff who had not received payment to contact the human resources department. At that time, none had, he wrote.

Murex management received a list of six proposals from staff representatives on March 7, but none of these included a request to return to work. This supports the company’s claim that they were never laid off in the first place, he added.

When Murex met with staff representatives on March 7, negotiations moved forward and both sides signed a memorandum of the issues to be resolved. These details were later altered by the staff members and then distributed to the media, K. Jaroon alleged.

Management negotiated with the protesters in good faith, including managerial matters not directly related to their employment contracts, he wrote.

Other staff demands included a promise not to lay off, suspend or change the work duties of existing staff for a period of three years, he noted.

The company had not ignored the workers’ request for across-the-board pay increases ranging from 1,000 to 1,5000 baht each per month, but the matter was still under negotiation through the Phuket Provincial Labor Office (PPLO), he said.

PPLO chief Anuchon Varinsathien told the Gazette that the workers issued their demands during the March 7 meeting attended by PPLO officials and four representatives each from both staff and management.

Those negotiations failed to reach an agreement, so another meeting was scheduled for tomorrow, March 18.

“I don’t understand why the protesters said they didn’t get any help from us. We can’t force the employer to meet the workers’ demands. All we can do is help them try to negotiate an agreement in terms of salary and benefits. But they can’t ask us to get rid of the [new] management for them,” he said.

Despite the current turmoil, the Gazette notes that Blue Canyon remains open for business as usual.

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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