Thailand denies labour abuses after global union complaint

The repaired statue of the Hindu god Brahma is pictured during a religious ceremony at Erawan shrine, the site of a recent deadly blast and now repaired, in central Bangkok, Thailand, September 4, 2015.
PHOTO: Reuters

BANGKOK - Thailand's military government on Wednesday defended its labour record after a global labour union with 50 million members filed a complaint against the country.

The complaint by the union IndustriALL was filed at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva on Tuesday, with details of 18 cases of worker and labour abuses.

It also accused the Thai government of failing to protect its workforce of 39 million people.

Sansern Kaewkamnerd, a spokesman for the prime minister's office, said the complaint was not true.

"The Thai government has always given importance to the country's workforce. We've organised the foreign and local workforce to ensure equal rights so that there are no abuses," Sansern told Reuters.

"The complaint by IndustriALL is not true," he added. "This government is very serious about not abusing the workforce especially in terms of the fisheries industry."

Labour abuses in the Thai fishing industry are well-documented.

Since 2014, the United States has put Thailand on the bottom-ranked Tier 3 in its annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.

The US State Department said in its 2015 TIP report some Thai and migrant workers were subjected to forced labour on Thai fishing boats with some remaining at sea for several years or paid very little, or they were threatened or beaten.

The environmental group Greenpeace on Monday urged Thai Union Group Pcl, the world's largest manufacturer of canned tuna, to rid its supply chains of destructive fishing practices.

More than 200 people submitted a letter to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha outside his Bangkok offices on Wednesday demanding stricter labour laws and better compensation.

IndustriALL helped create the landmark Accord on Fire and Building Safety after Bangladesh's Rana Plaza garment factory complex collapsed in April 2013, killing at least 1,130 people.

The legally binding accord, signed by more than 150 apparel companies and trade unions, requires factories to have independent safety inspections with the results made public.