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Labour leaders want better conditions, democratic progress

May 01. 2018
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By RACHANON CHAROONSAK
THE NATION

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LABOUR LEADERS bombarded authorities with demands for improved benefits and welfare, better working conditions and employee protection on May Day yesterday.

Representing various labour unions, they gathered at the Democracy Monument to declare their requests and make their voices heard. 

Thai workers gather at the Democracy Monument before marching to the Government House to mark International Workers' Day in Bangkok, Thailand, 01 May 2018. Thousands of Thai laborers rally on Labor Day calling on the government with a 10-point petition demanding for better welfare as well as improvement their work and living conditions. // EPA-EFE PHOTO

Prasert Jongcharoen, vice president of the Building and Woodworkers’ International Council of Thailand, said the benefits and welfare Thailand afforded to workers were poor compared to other countries. 

“The standard of labourers’ lives is very low compared to other countries,” he said. 

He said that an election would help solve |problems as it would allow workers’ voices to be heard. 

Apantree Jaroensak a member of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee’s department of youth and women, said she had been fighting for benefits under the International Labour Organisation’s Maternity Protection Convention for about five years. Most employers fire workers when they become pregnant without paying compensation, she said.

Arwut Pinyoyong, vice president of the National Congress of Thai Labour, called on the government to change the labour protection law by increasing the retirement age for workers to 60 years, from 55 at present. 

“Retiring at 55 is considered early for most workers. At 55, most workers can still do their job very well,” he said.

When asked whether an election would help improve worker problems, Arwut said having an election was part of democracy, which is essential for not only workers but also the economy and foreign investors wanting to put their money into Thailand. Right now, everything is moving at a slower pace because there is no election, he added. 

Across the country, workers held marches and other activities to mark Labour Day yesterday. 

Large events took place in Chiang Mai, Surat Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Pathum Thani and Uttaradit. The participating workers called for improved welfare benefits, fair wages and better labour rights.

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