Thai / English

Foreign firms' workers to rally at embassies

14 Jan 13

Thai workers will rally at the embassies of the US, Australia and the Netherlands in Bangkok Wednesday to protest against layoffs and alleged unfair employment practices by companies from those countries which employ Thais here.

Chalee Loysung, chairman of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee, told reporters Tuesday about the rallies. He said foreign companies changed employment conditions and laid off workers following the minimum wage increase that took effect in January.

Mr Chalee said the companies have been treating employees unfairly.

Following the protests at the embassies, the workers plan to move to Government House to demand the labour minister order the reinstatement of workers laid off after the wage hike.

Mr Chalee said several companies also demanded greater productivity.

One of the firms under fire is NXP Manufacturing, a Dutch electronicsmanufacturer.

The labour group said the company shortened its working week from six days to four, but now requires four hours a day of overtime. He said employees there are now working 12 hours a day but are earning less money.

Pieter van Nuenen, head of NXP Manufacturing's global corporate communications said the new work hours comply with the International Energy Conservation Code.

He said the changes benefit workers, but management is willing to negotiate with employees about their work hours.

He insisted the change had nothing to do with the minimum wage increase.

General Motors (Thailand) is also accused of changing its work schedules without employees' support.

GM increased work days at its Rayong plant from five to six per week.

The company said, however, that 98 per cent of employees support the new shifts.

GM announced on Monday that it would boost wages, bonuses and other benefits for all Thai employees covering the next two years.

The staff had agreed to the new employment package, which requires employees to work two out of every six weeks on a reduced-hours shift. The new schedule includes shifts on Saturdays.

Employees working on the new shifts will earn more money, he said.

They will receive shift allowance pay that is higher than current overtime payments.