Thai military’s attempt to silence labor activists confirms a deteriorating state of labor rights in Thailand after the coup.
On Tuesday, labor union activists revealed that they received phone call from the military who tried to prevent them from holding dialogue with government officials on ‘the World Day of Decent Work’ on Tuesday 7 October.
After receiving the phone call from a military officer on Monday night, Sripai Nonsi, a leading member of Rangsit and Area Labour Union Group, the network of labor unions in Rangsit District and nearby districts in central Prathum Thani Province, were summoned, along with five other unionists, to see military officers at Pathumthani Provincial Court the next morning.
In the meeting, she confirmed to the military that there would be no rally, but only talks with the officials from Ministry of Labor.
Every year, Thai labor unions organize rallies on ‘the World Day of Decent Work,’ but due to the coup d’etat, this year’s event had no rallies.
Prior to the Coup d’état in May, Sripai Nonsi and other members of the union had planned to address poor labor safety standards and other issues to the Ministry of Labor on 7 October.
Sripai also mentioned that the military asked her to come see them every months and claimed that she could help with public functions related to labor issues. Although the military did not ask her to put sign any paper, they did strongly insist that she must see them.
Sripai spent one hour with the military officers before going to the the Ministry of Labor and felt that her basic rights was suspended.
“We are like Burmese labors in Thailand now. We could not move freely and go talk about labor issues in other provinces because the military ordered us not to,” said Sripai.
She also pointed out that the coup d’état in May has negative impacts on Thailand’s labor rights.
A factory employer took the opportunity that the coup makers prohibited gatherings by laying off the employees in the first week of the coup. The employer later transported them back to their home time so that it would be even more difficult for them to get together, said the activist.
Sripai stated that she tried to convinced the military that labor protests are sometimes necessary for bargaining with employees, especially at the end of the year, when issues, such as working conditions and bonuses are normally discussed, but the military officers did not seem to have knowledge on labor issue.