Transnet President approaches Thai govt over railway workers’ rights

Transnet President approaches Thai govt over

Railway workers’ rights

Alexander Kirchner, President of Germany’s Transnet union and ITF Executive Board member, has protested to the Thai government over its treatment of the State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT).

In a letter to Thailand’s Ambassador to Germany he registered his concern over the way the SRUT is being sidelined and its pleas for the reinstatement of sacked members ignored.

Alexander Kirchner stated that he was “aware of the current dispute between the SRUT and State Railway of Thailand in which six trade unionists were dismissed in October 2009. As a member of the ITF I welcomed the decision of the tripartite State Enterprise Labour Relations Committee which voted against such action. Yet again, however, it is reported that the Thai Ministry of Transport has made a statement on the following day to express their objection and instructed the SRT to take the case to court.”

Kirchner’s intervention comes after the ITF last month sent a delegation to Thailand to look into reports of poor rail safety standards and anti-union practices by employers and government. The delegation condemned the poor safety standards they discovered. Ageing rolling stock, lack of safety devices and staff shortages were among the concerns they raised. The latter resulted in railway employees having to work for long periods without weekly rest days, further compromising safety and raising concerns for passengers.

At the time Øystein Aslaksen from the Norwegian Locomotive Drivers Union and Chair of the ITF Railway Workers’ Section said the Thai government and the SRT must “develop a new safety culture with the union without delay”.

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