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Thai Electrolux workers fight against dismissal

31 January, 2013Swedish-based household appliance multinational Electrolux continues to make a mockery of its commitments to uphold minimum labour rights standards throughout its operations, including those made in the Global Framework Agreement (GFA) with IndustriALL Global Union.

Since IndustriALL reported on the 11 January on the imprisoning and then mass dismissal of over 100 workers at Electrolux’s washing machine factory in Rayong, Thailand, the workers have conducted a picket outside the Government House in Bangkok at the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers, which continued to 31 January 2013. The union has also conducted a strong media campaign for reinstatement.

In writing to IndustriALL’s General Secretary Raina, Electrolux makes absurd claims blaming the workers for the conflict, and stating that the company is “keen to maintain good relations with employees and unions”, in stark contrast to the situation at their washing machine factory in Rayong.

On 25 January, the Electrolux union together with IndustriALL’s affiliate TEAM went to the Electrolux head office in Bangkok to call for their reinstatement. A meeting was conducted with the Bangkok management who claimed no involvement in the Rayong labour dispute, only for sales.

On 25 and 26 February, Swedish affiliate IF Metall and the union representative on the Electrolux Board of Directors will visit the Rayong manufacturing site and meet with the union and the local management as they are members of the committee monitoring compliance on the GFA. “The management says that they want to re-establish normal relations between the company and the union, but it won’t be happening before all the dismissed workers and union members are reinstated,” said Erik Andersson, IF Metall.

Since the union was formed in February 2011, local management has ignored their core rights at every opportunity. In 2012 Electrolux even applied for and received an award from the Thai government for “Best Company in the category of non-unionized workplace 2012”. The factory has the capacity to build over one million machines a year.

Speaking at the Bangkok demonstration on 31 January, the Electrolux union president Phaiwan Metha stated, “Electrolux shall respect our trade union rights the same way that the company practices in Sweden.” IndustriALL also delivered a message of solidarity to the workers.

The picketers will demonstrate in front of the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok on 1 February.