TRIUMPH TRIUMPHS BUT THE FIGHT GOES ON:
The following story from the Clean Clothes Campaign, an international solidarity group for workers in the garment industry, tells how Body fashion Thailand, a subsidiary of Triumph International, has won its court case regarding its right to dismiss union activists for their pro-union stance. The fight, however, isn't over, and the CCC has a link that you can follow for further action.
PRESS RELEASE: Thai Labour Court Gives Triumph Factory the Green Light to Violate Human Rights:
November 27, 2008
For immediate release
(Amsterdam) Today a labour court in Bangkok gave Body Fashion Thailand,a wholly-owned subsidiary of Triumph International, the green light in its effort to dismiss union president Jitra Kotshadej. The company filed a case against Ms. Kotshadej in relation to her participation, during her private time, in a national television debate wearing a t-shirt with the text 'Those who do not stand are not criminals. Thinking differently is not a crime.' The t-shirt refers to the right of people not to stand when the royal anthem is played and the abuse of lèse-majesté legislation to suppress political opposition. The company claims that her appearance damaged its reputation.
"By suing a union president, Triumph subsidiary Body Fashion Thailand(BFT) denies the fundamental right of freedom of expression" says Tessel Pauli, coordinator of the Clean Clothes Campaign. "Although the company has every right to distance itself from Ms. Kotshadej's personal opinions, it has an obligation to support her right to express them."
The Clean Clothes Campaign is concerned about Triumph's misuse of the courts to take action against a union leader, particularly when it is aimed at limiting her fundamental human rights. The threat of legal action discourages workers from joining and being active in unions, and appealing an unfair court decision is very difficult for workers, who rarely have the time and resources to pursue a lengthy legal battle.
Body Fashion Thailand first dismissed Ms. Kotshadej in July 2008. In response, more than 2000 of her co-workers laid down their work to demand her reinstatement. At the end of the 45-day strike, the company and the union agreed to a retrial of the dismissal case. Ms. Kotshadejdid not have a chance to defend herself in the first trial, because the company never properly informed her of their charges against her. Ms.Kotshadej will appeal against the labour court order.
Triumph International's Code of Conduct explicitly supports Article 19of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
The Code also explicitly supports freedom of association and prohibits acts of anti-union discrimination as set out in ILO conventions. Despite the workers' strike and repeated requests by Thai human rights groups and the Clean Clothes Campaign, Triumph refused to drop the case against Ms. Kotshadej.
For more information about the case, see