10 August 2015 – Four union leaders from Thailand’s TG Union have today been ordered to pay over nine million US dollars in damages to Thai Airways Company (Thai Airways), after peaceful protests in 2013 resulted in a collective agreement for workers at the airline
The ruling follows a two-day protest for decent salaries and job security in January 2013, led by the ITF-affiliated TG Union. Workers from catering, ground services, cargo handling and technicians took to the picket line. On 19th January the airline signed a collective agreement with the union which granted increased pay and benefits not only for the workers but also for management level workers – including the airline’s then acting president.
A year later, in January 2014, Thai Airways filed a damage suit of USD 9, 281, 349 against four of the union’s leaders who had signed the collective agreement with its management.
Gabriel Mocho, ITF civil aviation secretary, stated: “TG Union is the model of a courageous, active and worker-led union. Employees fought for improved wages and benefits, which is their legal right.”
He added: “Today’s unacceptable court verdict against four leading members of the union has brought the criminalisation of genuine trade union work to a whole new level, not only in Thailand, but across the world. The circumstances of this case are outrageous, with unbelievably severe penalties being imposed on individuals who are not criminals, but just trade union leaders who are guilty of no crime. This case involves four trade unionists who took part in peaceful, legal protests to defend and improve the conditions of their fellow workers. It looks very much like an attempt to kill off the union.”
The union has pledged to seek justice and will appeal the case at Thailand’s Supreme Labour Court.