22 November, 2019The suspension of US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for 573 types of Thai products sent a shockwave throughout Thailand, but unions say it provides the Thai government with an opportunity to overhaul labour laws and protect workers’ rights.
According to the US Trade Representative (USTR), the Thai government had failed to address issues of violations of workers’ rights petitioned by American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Oganizations (AFL-CIO) in 2015, despite years of engagement by the USTR with the Thai government.
“The Thai government should be held fully responsible for the termination of GSP, as it has failed to tackle widespread anti-union discrimination and protect workers' rights.
“The Thai labour movement has called on the government to ratify ILO conventions C87 and C98 to defend workers’ right to organize. It is now high time for the government to ratify the two conventions, as a mean to resolve the problem of GSP suspension,” says Prasit Prasopsuk, president of the Confederation of Industrial Labour of Thailand (CILT)
“Representatives of the US government have been sent to negotiate with the Thai government but the efforts were in vain. Thai politicians claimed the termination of GSP was due to banning three controversial chemicals by Thai government, but this shows how little concern they have for workers,” says Chalee Loysoong, the secretary of Thai Confederation of Electronic, Electrical Appliances, Auto and Metal Workers (TEAM).
IndustriALL Global Union filed a complaint against the Thai government with the International Labour Organization on 7 October 2015. The complaint includes 18 cases of flagrant violations of workers’ rights.
IndustriALL South East Asia office regional secretary Annie Adviento says:
“We fully support our Thai affiliates in their long-standing struggle against constant union busting and intimidation of workers. We demand that the Thai government initiate labour law reform to address the root cause.”