The Ministry of Labour will seek a court order to remove Triumph workers from the ground floor of its building, citing a complaint from a citizen, after it previously claimed the need to use the space for an exhibition to celebrate the King’s birthday. Products under the workers’ own brand name ‘Try Arm’ have been made and sold, and a labour organization in Switzerland has placed an order for 400 pairs of underwear.
According to a Daily News report on 23 Nov, Minister of Labour Phaithoon Kaewthong claimed a complaint was made by a citizen who came to the ministry on business about the ‘messy and unpleasant sight’ and the inconvenience caused by the protesters.
Pichit Sukhayuwana made the complaint through the government’s www.1111.go.th website, calling on the Minister to take immediate action to remove the protesters from public premises.
The Minister said that he was looking into this problem. So far the Ministry has tried, without success, to talk to them, as well as provide new jobs and vocational training.
‘There’s someone complaining. So it can’t be allowed to go on this way. I’ve told officials to ask for a court order to get the 200-300 workers out of the Ministry. I don’t want to use these means, but I’m forced to do so. We’ll do it in a gentle way,’ he said.
For nearly five months now, workers have continued a protest against Body Fashion Thailand Co, a subsidiary of Triumph International, which fired them in late June.
Since mid-October, about 300 ex-workers have occupied the ground floor of the building, and soon afterwards, they started to make their own products for sale to support their struggle.
Jitra Kotchadet, advisor to the Triumph International Labour Union, said that there was quite good response to their products. Customers came to buy them at the Ministry. Some placed orders by phone. Most of them were middle-aged. According to their survey, customers knew of their products through news reports on television and in the press.
A Swiss labour organization has ordered 400 pairs of underwear for Christmas.
They have 9 sewing machines, and can produce 60-70 pieces of each model per day. Apart from underwear, they also produce scarves and hand-sewn blankets. They are now planning to produce men’s underwear.
Jitra said they had been approached by many entrepreneurs for subcontracting and had been offered business partnerships, but they could not take these seriously as their campaign is their priority.
‘Our struggle for our rights has not finished yet,’ she said.