Labor rights, union busting and lese majeste

28 07 2009

As regular PPT readers will know, we concentrate on lese majeste, royalty in Thailand and related political events. At the same time, we have also commented on broader rights issues.

Events in Thailand and the Philippine, where an international brand seems to be closing factories to break unions, suggest that fundamental rights are being infringed.

We have received the following from readers. As background, we remind readers of an important link to lese majeste cases in Thailand.

On 29 July 2008, the president of Triumph International Labour Union Thailand, Ms. Jitra Kotchadej was fired by Body Fashion factory or Triumph International Limited Thailand.

The excuse for this dismissal was that Jitra wore a campaign T-shirt supporting Chotisak Onsoong who refused to stand up during the royal anthem in a cinema. The campaign T-shirt read: “Not standing is not a crime. To think differently doesn’t make one a criminal.” Royalists complained when Jitra wore the T-shirt during a television programme where she was interviewed on unwanted pregnancy among Thai workers and rights to abortion.

The management of Body Fashion  seized on this as an opportunity to use the lese majeste law to dismiss Jitra. The incident followed successful union action for a wage increase and enhanced benefits for the women workers in the factory.

Now, the German/Swiss lingerie multinational Triumph is going further in closing factories in order to crush unions. Here’s the report:

Lingerie producer blames global recession for factory closures

The  the German/Swiss lingerie multinational Triumph seems to use the pretext of the global economic recession to close down factories in the Philippines and Thailand. A number of these closures are irregular.

On June 29, Triumph’s producer in Thailand, Body Fashion Thailand, announced that around half of its 4200 workers would be out of their jobs by the end of August. Earlier this year, another Thai Triumph producer, Worldwell Garment Company, was closed down on Labour Day (May 1), and the entire work force sent home without their last salaries or the legally-required severance compensations.

In the Philippines, 1660 garment workers will loose their jobs by the end of August when Triumph International (Philippines) Ltd. and Star Performance Inc. will close down. Neither in Thailand nor in the Philippines did the Triumph management conduct timely and transparent negotiations with the factory workers’ unions as required by international labour standards.

Support these Thai and Filipino workers in their struggle. Send letters to Triumph’s headquarters in Switzerland today and send the links to your friends. Your actions will make a difference!

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