Thailand: Unionists defend their rights

At a factory blockade of a Michelin tire plant in Laem Chabang, Thailand, on 20 March 2009, workers protested against a harsh 35% pay cut. Following the manifestation, 22 union activists were arrested, suspended from their jobs, with management taking out criminal charges against them.

Those 22 unionists, members of ICEM-affiliated Petroleum and Chemical Workers’ Federation (PCFT), were finally reinstated to their jobs on 18 January, after attending a special training session specifically for them.

Ten of the 22 are still facing criminal charges, charges the ICEM believes are unjust because they relate to legitimate trade union activity. The cases are expected to be processed in the next month.

Trade union members continue to face discrimination on a daily basis inside the Michelin factory, a workplace that employs 1,500. They receive lower pay than non-union members and have witnessed management take away holiday allowances in 2009. More information here.


In Thailand, a 28 February deadline awaits for some two million migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos to either register through a complex “Nationality Verification” process, or leave the country. A  groundswell of momentum, both inside and outside of Thailand, is taking shape to convince the government that this is a bad idea, considering alone that 80% of these workers are Burmese who face persecution and imprisonment on ethnic and political grounds if they return to Burma. A full report from the ICEM can be found here and an ICEM letter to the Thai Prime Minister can be found here.






A few months ago, railway workers in Thailand went on strike, refusing to drive unsafe trains following a fatal crash.  The employer's response was to sack six union officials and to sue the union for damages. 

The State Railway Workers Union and its global union federation, the ITF, have called for an international campaign to protest these decisions, to urge the company to stop fighting against the union and instead to "build a new safety culture in the Thai railways with the workers and the union where whistle-blowers are not penalised." But the Thai Transport Minister is pushing the railway to continue pursuing its case against the union in court. Read more and make a protest here.