Tailandia - Organising prevented in both law and practice

Thai law denies the majority of the country’s 39 million workers their trade union rights. Restrictions on organising make it very difficult for temporary workers to join a union - and half of the workers in Thailand’s industrial workforce are temporary. The use of contract labour is also rife, heavily limiting unionisation, while foreign migrant workers – about ten per cent of the workforce – are prohibited by law from organising or holding union office. This situation and a string of labour rights abuses led the global union Industriall to file a complaint with the ILO on 7 October 2015, World Day for Decent Work, for violations of freedom of association and the right to organise. Industriall points out that the law fails to provide the basic rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining to about 75 per cent of the workforce of 39 million people. As a result, Thailand has the lowest unionisation rate in southeast Asia, at 1.5 per cent.

The complaint lists 18 cases of abuses of fundamental trade union rights, including many cases of workers being sacked simply for belonging to a trade union. In one case, the employer sacked 60 per cent of the workforce and replaced them with migrant labour to prevent the formation of a trade union. It is difficult for workers to seek redress. Even when the courts have declared worker dismissals illegal, little is done by authorities to enforce the rulings. Companies are allowed to carry on excluding and intimidating trade union leaders.

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