International Labor Federation Files Suit Against Thailand

Thai labor rights activists rally in this October 2013 file photo. Photo: IndustriALL

GENEVA — IndustriALL, a global labor union with 50 million members, has filed a complaint against Thailand at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, the union announced today.

The complaint, sent to the ILO's committee on freedom of association, details 18 cases of worker and labor abuses, IndustriALL said in a statement.

"IndustriALL, which has seven affiliate trade unions in the country, accuses the Thai government of failing to protect its workforce of 39 million workers, nearly half of whom are employed in the informal sector," it said.

IndustriALL helped create the landmark Accord on Fire and Building Safety after Bangladesh's Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in April 2013, killing at least 1,130 people.


That legally binding agreement, signed by more than 150 apparel firms and the unions, requires factories to have independent safety inspections with the results made public.

The Bangladesh disaster and the subsequent accord has bolstered labor unions in several Southeast Asian countries, making unions more confident and visible.

"Thailand is a hub in the global supply chain for many multinational companies. The government must do more to protect its workers, who are the backbone of the economy," IndustriALL's general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said in the statement.

"Likewise, multinational companies must not allow worker violations at their suppliers and subsidiaries in Thailand just because they can get away with it."

IndustriALL said Thailand failed to guarantee the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining to about 75 percent of the workforce, leading to it having the lowest unionization rate in Southeast Asia at 1.5 percent.

"Workers are frequently sacked for being trade unionists or trying to bargain collectively," the statement said.

"In cases where the courts have ordered workers to be reinstated, companies often ignore the ruling or put intolerable pressure on workers to quit. In other instances, court proceedings drag on for so long that the workers are forced to accept a payout and resign."

Story: Reuters / Tom Miles



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