Updated: Organized labor is always suspect

13 01 2016

Despite the fact that some elements of the now very small labor movement in Thailand has tended to be quite supportive of the two most recent military coups and anti-democrat protests, the military dictatorship still doesn’t trust organized¬† labor.

Most support for the rightists and militarists has come from state enterprise unions, which have been led around by the nose under the influence of Somsak Kosaisuk, a leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy back when Thaksin Shinawatra was under attack.

Of course, the military goons have long tried to control and weaken organized labor and have often been in the pay of employers keen to repress any organization among workers.

Last week, as reported at Prachatai, leaders of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) complained that military and police officers have intimidated¬† them. This comes “several days after the committee investigated the detention of labour union leaders of an electrical appliance company.”

Wilaiwan Sae-tia, president of the TLSC, said she was being followed by “4-5 military officers both in uniform and plainclothes” at her workplace and her home.

Yongyut Mentapao, TLSC’s vice president, also says he “had been followed by military and police officers from unidentified units…. He filed a complaint at a police station about the intimidation…”.

This followed “the detention of Chalee Loysoong, [another] TLSC Vice President, and Amorndech Srimuang, leader of the labour union of Sanko Gosei Technology Ltd., an electrical appliance manufacturer in the eastern province of Rayong, on Tuesday, 6 January 2016.”

These two were detained at the Ministry of Labor because “they led about 500 Sanko Gosei workers to the Ministry to ask Gen Sirichai Distakul, the Labour Minister, for assistance in negotiating with Sanko Gosei.” That company had closed and had protesting workers thrown out.

In detaining the union leaders, the police threatened them with charges for unlawful assembly.

As usual, the regime’s thugs work for employers and against any effort by people to organize or mobilize. Untamed union leaders are thus a threat.

Update: Demonstrating their thuggishness and incapacity for much other than repression, the dolts in the military decied to “visit” – i.e., threaten – Wilaiwan “at the office of the Om Noi/Om Yai Labour Union in Samut Sakhon Province.” About five men in uniform were responding to the statement by TLSC “condemning the authorities for using the¬†Public Assembly Act and detaining labour union members” protesting the event outlined above.

The politically daft thugs “cited their authority under Section 44 of the Interim Charter, which gives officers absolute power to maintain security, and informed the TLSC leader that from now on she must inform the military first before making any political moves.”

On the emergency decree

6 09 2010

Bangkok and several provinces remain under the provisions of the emergency decree, months after it was first instituted against red shirt protesters. The Bangkok Post has a special report on the decree, worth reading in full. Some of the points made include:

The decree gives the state sweeping authority to ban public gatherings of more than five people which could be determined as a potential cause of unrest. It also allows restrictions on news media and other forms of communications which might contain content seen as provocative, and it restricts the use of public streets or vehicles and allows for certain areas to be declared off-limits. It is not clear how many people have been held for violating the emergency decree. But the Justice Ministry, in June, reported that about 100 suspects had been detained.

On the numbers held, see PPT’s earlier post.

Human rights advocates and university lecturers warn that any further extension of the decree will do more harm than good to the country. They say the government must revoke the decree in all provinces where it remains in effect as soon as possible. They also question whether the government continues to impose it simply as a tool to suppress its opponents.

PPT was interested in some of these comments.

Angkhana Neelaphaijit of the Working Group on Justice and Peace said the decree was “exacerbating the discord between the authorities and the UDD supporters.” She added that the decree had “violated the basic human rights of those arrested under the security law.” She pointed out that the decree had been in place in the south for several years: “There, many of those arrested have disappeared after release from detention.”

Wilaiwan Sae-tia of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee also stated that “the decree had limited the freedom of expression and right of assembly of social activists over the past five months.” She complained: “We can’t carry out any social activities and we don’t even have the chance to express our opinions or [have the right to] demand that the government solves our problems…”.

Meanwhile, Somchai Preechasilpakul, from the law faculty at Chiang Mai University, said “the emergency decree was aimed more at getting rid of the government’s opponents than it was at keeping the peace.” He pointed out that in the north, “many community radio stations in Chiang Mai had been shut down because they were critical of the government. Red shirt supporters have also been reportedly arrested and have since disappeared.”

They are contradicted by die-hard security advocate and acting government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said the “government needed to evaluate the situation very carefully before lifting the emergency decree in the remaining seven provinces. It would have to look at the impact the emergency was having on tourism and investment. He could look at the Bangkok Post’s photo below and wonder what tourists think.

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