ITF calls on Thai government to act on ruling against it

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has upheld allegations of the illegal victimisation of trade union leaders by Thai Airways. The complaint was taken to the United Nations body by the ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and its Thai unions, and the ITF is now calling on the government to obey the ILO’s recommendation that it informs its Supreme Labour Court of the injustice and “intimidating effect” of the persecution it has allowed at the behest of the airline.

The ruling by the ILO Committee on the Freedom of Association upholds an ITF/union complaint made last year (see https://goo.gl/vRo0O0) which charged the government with failure to uphold its obligations under international law. This followed a spontaneous two-day protest by off duty Thai Airways staff in 2013 for a decent pay rise and bonus. Officials from the TG Union negotiated between the staff and management, helping to end the protest. The airline signed an agreement granting the pay and benefits demanded by the staff – then later took four union officials to court demanding the incredible fine of USD 9 million (see https://goo.gl/qYtR3k).
 
The committee  also instructed the government to remove the provision in national law banning strikes in public services that was misused to persecute the four men – and bring the country into line with international standards.
 
ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented: “The TG Union couldn’t have acted more responsibly in this matter, by securing an agreement between the company and the protestors that led to a speedy resolution. Unbelievably the company then showed its gratitude by using its influence to initiate a court case that could have no other purpose than to crush the union via a massive and unsustainable damages claim.”
 
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton added: “We are grateful to the ILO for once again upholding international law and conventions. We urge the Thai government to respond in a responsible and appropriate manner and inform the court that its behavior is both unlawful and deliberately punitive.”
The ILO Committee for the Freedom of Association recommended that:

‘Considering that, upon the claim for damages lodged by the company over losses allegedly attributable to the protest action, the damages ordered against the four union officials are based on violations of strike prohibitions which are themselves contrary to the principles of freedom of association, and that their excessive amount is likely to have an intimidating effect on the TG union and its leaders and inhibit their legitimate trade union activities, the Committee trusts that the Supreme Labour Court will be informed by the Government of the Committee’s conclusions concerning the principles of freedom of association.’ The full ruling can be seen here (pages 549 onwards): www.ilo.org/gb/GBSessions/GB329/ins/WCMS_548465/lang--en/index.htm

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