Tailandia - Airline tries to destroy union by suing for damages over collective agreement

On 10 August 2015, four union leaders from Thai Airways International Union (TG Union) were ordered to pay over nine million US dollars in damages to Thai Airways, in a case involving peaceful protests in 2013 that resulted in a collective agreement.

The collective agreement was signed by the union and management in January 2013, after a two-day protest oversalaries and job security. The agreement granted increased pay and benefits not only for the workers but also for management level workers – including the airline’s then acting president. A year later, however, in January 2014, Thai Airways filed a damage suit of USD 9,281,349 against four of the union’s leaders who had signed the collective agreement with its management. The courts found in the airline’s favour in August 2015.

In January 2016 the TG union together with the State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation (SERC) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation lodged a complaint with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) about the government of Thailand’s failure to protect workers’ rights. Specifically, the complaint noted that the principle of freedom of association was not enshrined in law.

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