Thai Airways Threatens Strike If Govt Refuses To Quit

Anti-government protester with a sign that reads, "Power Belongs to the People," 19 May 2014.

BANGKOK — The leader of the Thai Airways union has threatened to call a strike and shutdown the company if the government refuses to resign by 21 May.

Somsak Manop, deputy chairperson of the Thai Airways union, said all union members of the state-owned airline should follow the plan put forth by the anti-government People's Committee for the Absolute Democracy With the King As Head of State (PCAD), which calls for a nationwide strike to "seize back the Sovereign Power" for  the people. 

The PCAD is in the midst of their "one last fight" to topple the government of caretaker Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisarn, and replace it with an unelected "People's Council" to implement series of unspecified "national reforms.” PCAD leader Suthep Thaugsuban has claimed that the "Great Mass of the People" will achieve victory by 27 May. 

According to Mr. Somsak, if the government does not respond to PCAD's demand by 21 May, more than 15,000 employees of the airline will unanimously go on strike from 22-26 May, as a part of the PCAD’s final struggle against the government.


"If all employees join the strike, the company will automatically be shut down," Mr. Somsak said. 

The threat to strike comes at a time when the debt-ridden, state-owned Thai Airways is already facing massive financial losses, caused by the significant drop in tourism since turmoil broke out in Thailand last year, an inability to compete with privately-run airlines, and rampant nepotism.

Mr. Somsak admitted that some Thai Airways employees disagree with the strike plan because they fear it will only worsen the company's financial troubles. However, he claimed that 70-80% of the workers do agree with the strike, and said that Thai Airways will be in financial trouble regardless of whether the workers strike or not.

Mr Somsak added that "three to four" executive members of the Thai Airways union will join the PCAD's effort to hunt down Cabinet members and force them to resign from their caretaker positions. 

Caretaker director of Thai Airways Chokechai Panyayong said the administration is aware of the union's strike threat, and insisted that the company's operation will be not disrupted. 

"I am confident that Thai Airways staff has the spirit and responsibility for their duty," Mr. Chokechai said.

He explained that the administration has not forbidden its staff from joining any political demonstrations because it is their constitutional right to do so, but he stressed that staff are only permitted to join protests outside of working hours.

"I am sure there will be no disruption to our service," Mr. Chokechai added.



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