Bangkok has seen a historic moment today as a new workers’ union has been launched.
Working people on the city’s metro and rail system have come together to form the Metro and Rail Transport Workers' Union (MRTU) and held their first general meeting at the offices of the State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT).
The MRTU represents workers in Siemens Mobility Company Thailand, and has the backing of the workers’ union at Siemens in Germany.
Suporn Larsuprom is a track worker at Siemens Mobility Company Thailand, and is the president of the MRTU: “We realise that forming a workers’ union is not easy, but we will all try our best because we know it’s the right thing to do for everyone who works in the company. It is our right to do this and we won’t give up. With the backing of the ITF and IG Metall we will succeed.”
In a letter to the MRTU, representatives on the Siemens supervisory board and from the German metalworkers’ union IG Metall said: ‘We support the introduction of union representation at the Siemens facilities in Thailand and will do our best to protect the union against any anti-union interference from the company’s side.’
ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton welcomed the launch of the MRTU: “Everyone has a right to a good job so they can support their loved ones. That’s what these working people can now fight for through their union. Congratulations to them for forming the MRTU and welcome to the ITF family - we will be there to provide support and solidarity.
“We all have a right to cleaner, safer cities, and public transport is a big part of this. It’s great that so many cities in the Asia-Pacific region are investing in metro systems. But the new jobs created must allow people to support their families and enjoy good lives. The best way to ensure this is for workers to organise into unions to win and defend their rights.”
CAPTION: The MRTU members were joined by trade union activists from South Korea, India and New Zealand
BACKGROUND: Siemens supports the principles of the International Labour Organization (ILO), including its employees right to freedom of association, and has signed an international framework agreement with Industriall Global Union to protect the interests of working people across its operations.
The ITF demands that the Thai government:
- enshrines in law internationally accepted principles of freedom of association set out in ILO conventions 87 and 98
- ensures that migrant workers have full rights to organise and bargain collectively.
ITF OUR PUBLIC TRANSPORT (OPT) PROGRAMME: OPT is actively campaigning for secure jobs and union rights for workers in public and private employers. At the heart of the programme is several workers’ unions that represent public transport workers in every region of the world. It works in target cities to strengthen the voice of workers; campaigns to improve working conditions for all public transport workers and users, in particular women and informal transport workers; and is developing a People’s Public Transport Policy: www.ourpublictransport.org