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Media advisory: global union in Bangkok to support persecuted rail workers

17 Jan 2019
Press Release
ITF delegation with Mr.Kritthep Simlee, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Transport Ministry
A high-level delegation from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) will be speaking in Bangkok this week in support of workers from the State Rail Union of Thailand (SRUT).

The workers have been fined, sacked and had their pay docked just for exposing safety failings on the rail system.

The ITF delegation will hold a media conference with the SRUT:

Time - 1500, Friday, 18 January
Location - SRUT, 4th Building, Nikom Rotfai K.M.11, Viphavadee-Rangsit Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900 Thailand

Speaking at the media conference:

  • Ruwan Subasinghe, Legal Director, ITF
  • CA Raja Sridhar, Vice-Chair of Railway workers, ITF
  • Sawit Kaewvarn, President, SRUT

For more information please contact Ms.Su-angcana Tungworachet, ITF-THAI Coordinator: +66 81-694-4092.



The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) helps create borderless solidarity among transport workers around the world. We support 670 affiliate trade unions in 147 countries, representing 19.7 million workers. 

The ITF delegation have met with the labour and transport ministries in Thailand, as well as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), to press the case of the SRUT workers. Photos included with this release.

A global campaign exposing the case has been launched by Labourstart here:

The ITF, along with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), has written to the ILO director general asking him to urgently intervene in the case of the seven Thai rail union leaders.

Sawit Kaewvarn, Pinyo Rueanpetch, Banjong Boonnet, Thara Sawangtham, Liem Morkngan, Supichet Suwanchatree and Arun Deerakchat have been ordered by a Thai court to pay a fine of THB24 million (USD726,116) for running a health and safety initiative at the state railway of Thailand (SRT). 

The seven activists are all members of the SRUT. They started the initiative after the Hua Hin rail crash of 5 October 2009, with the aim of exposing insufficient safety standards. For their initiative they were sacked, but were reinstated in 2013 after a global campaign of support [].  

In 2013, the ILO committee on freedom of association found that the initiative by the activists was industrial action, and therefore protected by the principles of freedom of association. The joint letter, from ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton and ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, to ILO director general Guy Ryder says "it appears from the judgment that the Thai Government failed to transmit the CFA’s conclusions to the Supreme Court ... There is a now a very real possibility that these fines could bankrupt the individuals concerned."

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