“Labor Organization releases a survey on rights of construction workers for the Purple- Line MRTA Project, found it is below standard, calling JICA to adopt Core Labor Standards.”
Sakoldet Silapong (Program Officer at Solidarity Center Thailand)
30 Apr 13
April 26, 2013, ASIAN Labor Network on the International Financial Institutions (ALNI)/ Thailand gives press release on fundamental labor rights on construction workers, the Purple-Line MRTA Project (Bang Sue-Bang Yai) which the government of Thailand took the loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency).
Mr. Chalee Loysoong, ALNI/T President said in the past, all major loan institutions such as WB, IMF, ADB are all adopted ILO Core Labor Standards, except JICA who has been provided loans to most of the mega projects in the country is still refuse to do so. This is the reason why ALNI took on the challenge, working on a survey research of the Purple-Line construction project to find out whether there are any labor rights violations on the construction workers.
Mr. Chalee continued with more details that during the survey, the subcontract companies are unwilling to cooperative, majority of them refused to allow the surveyors to interview the workers freely. Even though, with the permission, workers felt uncomfortable to provided accurate information under the present of their supervisors. Nevertheless, the surveyors have uncovered the fact that JICA can not denied: construction workers live under a bad environment - a slum like with, major health risk and their shelters are made of galvanized iron which give out a lot of heat during the summer months. Female workers lack privacy, children are ignored and with no education. The right to organized is very limited because the lack of knowledge. Few workers knew about the union. Collective bargaining with employer to improve working conditions is none exist.
CPD said JICA is major international loan institution who works on mega projects but workers living conditions are very poor. He raises an interesting question that if a big construction company (contractor) could not provide a living wage and better welfare to its workers, it is hopeless for their workers to get a decent wage from a small company (subcontract).
Mr. Bundit Thanachaisethavut, Arom Pongpagan Foundation, labor rights researcher gave overall information from the survey of 178 workers on the Purple-Line MRTA Project. He said majority of them are Thai and they apply for the job by themselves or introduce by friends and relatives. They must work overtime regularly enough to keep himself and his family to survive. Workers are a all a daily hire which mean that whatever the reason if they did not show up for work, they would not get pay. If they refuse to work overtime, majority of workers claim that they will not be punished. But only just a warning from their bosses or worst denying overtime work for a period of time or cut the salary pay.
Mr. Buddhi Netiprawat, BWI organizer, gave example of the Angkor Wat’s restoration which the government of Cambodia took a loan from French. Under the loan condition, the construction company must allow their workers to bargain with employer for a better condition. This proves that the loan institution can make a difference, improving a labor standard.