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Reinstate Thai auto workers says IndustriALL

29 January, 2016More than 600 locked-out auto workers in Thailand must be reinstated, said IndustriALL in letters to the Thai government and Japanese company Sanko Gosei Ltd.

IndustriALL also calls on the Thai government to end the intimidation of trade unionists and activists, after they report being monitored by military forces.

The workers have been locked out without pay since 20 December after negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement broke down. Auto part manufacturer Sanko Gosei Technology in Thailand, which is a subsidiary of Sanko Gosei Ltd in Japan, has brought in contract workers on lower wages to replace them.

The Sanko Gosei Workers Union, affiliated to IndustriALL through its Thai affiliate TEAM, has agreed to accept the employer's demands on bonus (0.6 months) and wage increase (1 per cent). However, the workers are still locked out and the company is intransigent.

IndustriALL general secretary, Jyrki Raina, says:

“We demand that Sanko Gosei Technology immediately end the lockout, reinstate the workers, and enter into negotiations in good faith with the trade union. The union has clearly shown its willingness to help solve this conflict by accepting, inter alia, the company’s proposal concerning the bonus and salary increase. Therefore, we expect Sanko Gosei Technology to act accordingly, return to the negotiating table, and engage in a meaningful and fair fashion with your government and the union through the mediation process.”

IndustriALL affiliate, the Japan Council of Metalworkers’ Unions, has also approached Sanko Gosei Ltd in Japan, urging the company to take a lead in the situation so that Sanko Gosei Technology in Thailand reaches an amicable solution with the workers’ union.

In October 2015, IndustriALL filed a complaint against the government of Thailand to the International Labour Organization for breaching trade union rights.

“Barring an immediate and satisfactory resolution of the conflict, IndustriALL Global Union would have to consider adding the conflict at Sanko Gosei Technology as part of our complaint,” wrote Raina in the letter to the Minister of Labour, General Sirichai Distakul.

Earlier this month, the Public Assembly Act was used to disperse a gathering of 500 locked out workers outside the Ministry of Labour. Union leaders were taken away, escorted at all times, and had their phones confiscated by the authorities for a number of hours.  

The deterioration in the situation is particularly disappointing as Jyrki Raina raised the Sanko Gosei case in a meeting with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Labour in December, who said the government shared IndustriALL’s will to protect workers.