Thai military forbids labour rally in Chiang Mai

The military have forced the cancellation of a Labour Day rally organised by workers in Chiang Mai, citing the continuing volatility of the political situation.  

According to Prachatham News, the Workers Solidarity Association (WSA), Migrant Workers Federation (MWF), Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (TWF), Thailand Electronic and Electric Appliance Workers' Federation (TEEF), and the Federation of Jewelry and Accessory Workers planned to hold a rally in the northern province of Chiang Mai on the morning of Friday 1 May, International Labour Day.

The rally was initially planned to be attended by about 100 workers, who would walk from Lanna Rama 9 Park in central Chiang Mai to the Provincial Hall to submit a letter to the Chiang Mai governor on the demands of the labour groups.

However, the rally had to be cancelled under order of the military and labour union members were allowed to send only 30 representatives from each labour group to submit the letter.

Labour union representatives read out the letter demanding more labour rights at Chiang Mai Provincial Hall on International Labour Day, 1 May 2015 (Photo from Prachatham)

“We already asked for permission [to hold the rally] from the 33rd Army Division, but the military didn’t allow it because they thought that the rally was related to certain sensitive [political] issues and that the political situation is still abnormal. [They said that] it would be a precedent for other groups if they let us stage a rally, so they didn’t let us,” said one of the group representatives.

In the letter, the group called on the government to ratify the fundamental International Labour Organization conventions Nos. 87 and 98 in order to guarantee the rights of workers to form unions for collective bargaining with employers and to offer protection for labour unionists.

The group pointed out that the government must also come up with law enforcement mechanisms to make sure that employers would not be able to exploit workers under the labour laws.

The statement also demanded that the local and national governments give equal rights to both migrant workers and Thai workers without discrimination and take concrete efforts to protect foreign workers from any kind of exploitation.

Reasonable wages must also be given to all workers in line with rising inflation and the cost of living in the country to allow workers to support their families and to have more opportunities, added the group.