Refusing to negotiate with workers’ representatives, Electrolux management in Thailand locked up over 100 workers for 8 hours, including a pregnant woman, then sacked 127 workers including the local union president of the Rayong plant.
In a letter addressed to the company management in Sweden, which is signatory to an International Framework Agreement on workers’ rights, IndustriALL Global Union joined with Swedish union IF Metall in expressing outrage at the unjust and anti-union actions of Electrolux Thailand.
On 11 January 2013 Electrolux Thailand management called a meeting of all workers at 8am and announced a two-month bonus, but then refused to discuss the workers demands for fair wage increases and permanent employment for agency workers after 6 months.
Instead the managers forcibly removed the union president, Phaiwan Metha, from the meeting throwing him onto the street and dismissing him. When the gathered workers learnt of the dismissal they continued to sit on the floor and demanded his reinstatement and return.
Management then called security and police and surrounded the workers, preventing them from leaving for 8 hours, including a pregnant woman in her sixth month who tried to leave. At 5pm the workers were released, one by one by the security guards. The workers returned to work on 14 January to find written dismissal notice for 127 workers.
The dismissals followed more than a month of efforts by the union to negotiate on the new minimum wage and annual wage adjustments due to be implemented by 25 January 2013. The management had refused to accept the proposals by the union and instead attempted to impose wage adjustments that had not been agreed to.
In the letter to Electrolux IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina states that the company’s actions “constitutes a crystal clear union-busting attempt to force upon workers an unfair collective bargaining process”.
“I strongly urge you to use your influence to immediately reinstate the dismissed workers and union members and return to the collective bargaining table to achieve a fair and just resolution of this conflict as well as create a constructive relationship between labour and management,” writes Raina.
The union at the plant in Thailand was formed in 2010 at which time it managed to negotiate a collective agreement that is due for renewal this year. The products of the Electrolux plant include washing machines, refrigerators and other electrical appliances for European and Asian markets.
The dismissed workers are now fighting against the management’s unjust union busting tactics and have submitted their grievances to the Parliament’s Labour Commission.