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Staff protest continues at Blue Canyon

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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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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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid-19 mask violators in Phuket forced to exercise

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Pushups instead of a 6,000 baht fine at a Phuket checkpoint yesterday. (via video screenshot)

For those who have more pounds on their body than pounds in their pocket, exercise punishment seen in Phuket yesterday for mask violators may or may not be welcome. Officials have walked back the strict 6,000 baht punishment for the first warning against someone not wearing a mask and were spotted forcing those who have gone out without a mask to do exercise on the street.

The people forced to exercise were at a Covid-19 checkpoint in the Rawai subdistrict, where the Chalong Police along with local medical workers were checking people yesterday. The checkpoint was set up in an effort to push one hundred per cent mask compliance to stop the spread of Covid-19 on Phuket.

Not only were they checking everyone who passed by to make sure they had their masks, but also to correct those who were wearing their masks improperly. We’ve all seen the people who seem to think that a mask on their chin or underneath their nose is somehow just as effective as a properly worn mask, or at least that they can get away with “wearing a mask” while limiting their personal inconvenience.

Officials were quick to point out that the overwhelming majority of people passing through the checkpoint, both foreigners and Thai, did have their masks with them and were wearing them properly. But they did catch more than 10 people not wearing their face mask or not using them correctly.

Authorities decided to let them off with a first soft warning by moving bodies instead of moving baht. Police made violators do exercise right there on the street in hopes of shaming them into making better decisions next time. All violators did have their names and details taken down with a promise that if they were caught again proper traditional fines would be handed down.

No word yet on any plans to make this punishment into a Tik-Tok Channel.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Tourism

Thai public health and tourism ministers on Phuket to push the July 1 Sandbox reopening

Tim Newton

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Bangkok has sent a couple of ministerial heavyweights to Phuket today to keep pushing the July 1 ‘Sandbox’ bandwagon, insisting that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated tourists from July 1.

The Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul ,along with the Sports and Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, are doing the island PR tour today delivering a message from the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha who is confirming that Phuket will open to fully vaccinated international tourists from the start of July.

Phuket has continued to rack up between 10-20 new Covid infections each day over the past week and still has hundreds of people listed as ‘active cases’. As of today 22% of the island has been vaccinated.

The original Phuket Sandbox model was intended to be quarantine-free. That issue was not made clear during today’s PR trip from the 2 ministers. The full details of how Phuket will open to international tourists, how those tourists might get to Phuket, or where they will visit on an island with its tourist infrastructure shutdown, have not been provided at this stage. It has also not been discussed how long the international tourists will have to remain on Phuket before travelling to other parts of the country.

The Phuket Governor welcomed the prime ministerial delegation to Provincial Hall at lunchtime saying that Phuket would progress with its plans to launch the Phuket Sandbox from July 1.

โ€œAll stakeholders who are frontline warriors working to solve the problem of the Covid epidemic situation have earned the goodwill and concern from Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also believes that Phuket is ready to prepare for the opening of the Phuket Tourism Sandbox on July 1 for sure.”

Phuket Province generated several hundreds of billions of baht of income for the country per year and Thailand relies heavily on tourism income. Indeed, second to Bangkok, Phuket was the government’s golden goose delivering decades of high tourism receipt returns.

Speaking to The Phuket News, Anutin said…

“The government is ready to act as soon as possible. This has been clearly proved, such as by the large number of vaccine doses that Phuket has been allocated to vaccinate the people in the area to cover all groups and be as safe as possible as the โ€˜Phuket Model’.

โ€œWhen the economy is good, everyone gets better, so use patience to believe that good things will follow”.

Another 100,000 Sinovac vaccines arrived on the island to be formerly handed over today by Minister Anutin. An additional 100,000 doses will arrive on Tuesday.

AstraZeneca vaccines are also due to arrive from June, daily reserved for people over 60 years old or people who have other health conditions which require the AZ vaccine instead of the Chinese manufactured Sinovac.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Phuket

Phuket may ditch light rail and build smart bus system instead

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A Smart bus plan may replace Phuket light rail plans. (via MRTA)

A proposal to drop the light rail planned for Phuket and replace it with a smart bus system is under an in-depth review as ordered by Phuket Transport Minister. Advocates for the smart bus – automated driverless buses on city streets – say that the project would bring mass transportation to Phuket Island for 15.2 billion baht cheaper than a light rail would.

The analysis was ordered Thursday in a phone meeting to check progress on regional transport projects. The Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand has suggested changing the plan in Phuket from light rail to a smart bus system. The MRTA had been dead set on the light rail system but have now launched preliminary research on a driverless bus system.

HERE’S a previous story with more details about how the bus system would work, instead of a light rail.

But critics say the planned light rail system was almost unworkable with its routing not going through the main population centres and its complete avoidance of the tourist areas, was doomed from the start. The 5 years it was expected for construction would have caused major traffic snarls on the main island arteries and then reduced traffic flow on those arteries for the life of the light rail project.

Initial investigations show that an automated rapid transit bus system would shave about 9 months off the construction time and 15.289 billion baht from the budget. Cost-saving measures like precast concrete and launching gantries will further reduce construction expenses.

As a result, the bus system could be run with lower passenger fares than a light rail train would. The project was considering 3 bus fares… local in Phuket Town, local outside of Phuket Town, and transport between towns around the island.

The MRTA and the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning have coordinated with the Expressway Authority in Thailand to consider the smart bus plan and its effect on traffic. Unfortunately, the group is worried that building the smart bus system plan to be ready by 2026 while working on the Patong tunnel project scheduled to open in 2028 would create long-term detrimental traffic jams. They’re considering a postponement to a 2030 launch (the Patong tunnel project has been in ‘planning’ mode for 20 years and will never happen).

The Transportation Minister has requested proposals for 2 different timelines to be delivered within the next 2 weeks, and plans to have the MRTA and EXAT come to Phuket for public hearings after Covid-19.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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