Thai military intimidates labour union leader

A group of military officers visited the leader of a labour union after it issued a statement condemning the authorities for using the Public Assembly Act and detaining labour union members.

At least five military officers at around 8 pm on Wednesday, 13 January 2016, visited Wilaiwan Saetia, President of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), at the office of the Om Noi/Om Yai Labour Union in Samut Sakhon Province.

At the discussion, which lasted until about 11 pm, the officers cited their authority under Section 44 of the Interim Charter, which gives officers absolute power to maintain security, and informed the TLSC leader that from now on she must inform the military first before making any political moves.

On Tuesdays, the TLSC issued a public statement to condemn the brief detention of Chalee Loysoong, TLSC Vice President, and Amorndech Srimuang, leader of the labour union of Sanko Gosei Technology Ltd., an electrical appliance manufacturer in the eastern province of Rayong, on 6 January 2016.

The two were detained by police officers at the Ministry of Labour in Bangkok for about four hours after they led about 500 Sanko Gosei workers to the Ministry to ask Gen Sirichai Distakul, the Labour Minister, for assistance in negotiating with Sanko Gosei Company after the company closed its plant in Rayong on 20 December 2015.

After the closure, employees of the plant camped out in front of the factory. Five days later, however, on 25 December 2015, the owners of Hemaraj Industrial Estate where the factory is located obtained a court order to force the Sanko Gosei employees to leave the factory.  

In the statement, the TLSC also condemned the authorities for regularly citing the Public Assembly Act to quell worker strikes.   

On 7 January 2016, Wilaiwan reported that 4-5 military officers both in uniform and plainclothes followed her from the factory where she works to her house.

She said that the authorities’ action intimidated her and the staff at her workplace.

Military officers in discussions with Wilaiwan Saetia, TLSC president, at the office of the Om Noi/Om Yai Labour Union in Samut Sakhon Province on 13 January 2016.

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