Demand rehiring of sacked union leader
Angry Triumph factory workers yesterday threw underwear into the grounds of Government House after Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej refused to personally accept their petition for the reinstatement of the head of their labour union. He assigned Pol Capt Tawit Suphawan, of the Government House complaints division, and Labour Relations Office chief Somchai Wongthong to accept the petition.
Triumph produces women's under garments and swimwear at their factory in Bang Phli industrial estate in Samut Prakan.
Some of the 800 protesting workers wore bras , bikinis or swimsuits over their clothes to show support for union leader Jitra Kongdej, who was dismissed on July 30 for damaging the company's image.
She wore a T-shirt bearing a slogan some people thought was critical of the monarchy while appearing on the TV show Krong Sathanagarn (Situation Filtering) on April 24.
The T-shirt's slogan, ''Not standing is no crime. One who thinks differently is not a criminal'', relates to the arrest of people refusing to rise when the royal anthem is played in cinemas.
The company took action after one person complained about Ms Jitra's shirt on a newspaper website and threatened to boycott Triumph products.
The workers demanded the company's management be punished for sacking Ms Jitra, a move they saw as an attempt to undermine the labour union.
They asked the company not to take action against employees who were absent to attend the rally yesterday.
They went to seek Mr Samak's help after their protest at the factory and a rally on July 31 at the company's head office in Bangkok produced no results.
Protesters said the company played the national anthem loudly at 8am, noon and 6pm to drown out their speeches.
With Mr Samak nowhere to be seen, those wearing underwear over their clothes took the items off and tossed them into the government compound.
Deputy head of the Triumph labour union Sirirat Sukchai said Ms Jitra's dismissal was an attempt to weaken the labour union, which is very strong and influential. About 4,000 of the company's 5,000 workers have joined.
The union has successfully pushed for better working conditions and welfare packages for the staff in the past.
Ms Jitra said the company reaffirmed its decision not to re-employ her.
Ms Jitra said she might appeal the dismissal ruling because she did not have a chance to defend herself in the Labour Court, which upheld the employer's complaint.
The court summons was posted on a house she rented eight years ago, but she no longer lived there.
From : http://www.bangkokpost.com/060808_News/06Aug2008_news12.php