Wednesday, September 09, 2009
THREATS AGAINST THAI WORKERS:
The following story and appeal comes from the Clean Clothes Campaign. Have a look at the device circled in the photograph. It's described more below. Don't be surprised to see more and more of these deployed by the police at various demonstration across the world. Molly wonders who manufactuers these things. An interesting question.
Leaders of Peaceful Protest Against Triumph Threatened with Arrest in Thailand:
Workers were confronted with police using a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD)
On August 28, the Dusit Police Bureau in Bangkok issued arrest warrants against three union activists for their role in a peaceful demonstration against the dismissal of nearly 2000 workers at Body Fashion Thailand, a wholly owned subsidiary of Triumph International.
Take action now to prevent their arrest!
The day before, hundreds of Triumph workers assembled in front of the parliament to hand a petition to the Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. However, Vejjajiva refused to meet with the union representatives, and instead the workers were confronted with police using a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). This controversial military weapon consists of a high concentration of sound waves that can cause temporarily deafness and blurred vision, as well as permanent hearing loss. According to human rights organisations, this non-lethal weapon can be classified as a technique of political control that poses a threat to civil liberties.
Bunrawd Saiwong (33), secretary of the Triumph International Thailand Labour Union, Jitra Kotchadej (34), independent consultant of TITLU, and Sunthorn Boonyod (50), manager at Labour Congress Centre for Labour Unions of Thailand, are accused of breaching the recently invoked Internal Security Act forbidding demonstrations of more than 10 people in Dusit district in Bangkok. The ISA gives a wide range of power to the authorities to arrest and detain, not unlike a State of Emergency decree. In this case, the law is being used to suppress peaceful assembly and freedom of speech in a case of labour rights violations committed by a European multinational corporation.
The demonstration at the Thai parliament is one of the many protest actions organised by the Triumph union against the dismissal of half of the workforce of the Triumph International subsidiary Body Fashion Thailand. The union has been confronted with anti-union behaviour by the management since summer 2008. They fear that the announced retrenchment is yet another attempt to get rid of unionised workplaces. This is supported by the fact that other factories in Thailand, owned by the same company but without a democratically elected union in place, are expanding. Furthermore, Triumph failed to abide by ILO convention 158 and the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which call for companies to develop and negotiate a retrenchment plan with the union, and to provide detailed information supporting the business decision behind the plan. Throughout August, the management repeatedly cancelled meetings with the union.
See also http://www.cleanclothes.org/triumph-dismissals-in-asia-attempt-to-get-rid-of-unions to find out more about the mass layoffs at Triumph factories in Thailand and the Philippines.
Please go to THIS LINK to send the following protest letter to Thailand Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.
CONCERNING ARREST THREATS MADE AGAINST THAI WORKERS:
Please write to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva today to prevent the arrests of these three union activists.
Also contact Triumph International here to demand proper negotiations with the unions in Thailand and the Philippines in case of mass-dismissals.
Send the following letter directly to:
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, The Secretariat Of the Prime Minister Office Thai Government House Phitsanulok Road, Dusit Bangkok, Thailand Fax: +662 282 8558 Email: IcAd@thaigov.go.th
Dear Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva,
I write to you today to express my serious concerns about the arrest warrants against Jitra Kotchadej, Sunthorn Boonyod, and Bunrawd Saiwong, issued by the Dusit Police Bureau on August 28, 2009. I have been informed by the Clean Clothes Campaign that these three labour rights activists are accused of inciting unrest for participating in a peaceful protest against the dismissal of nearly 2000 workers at Body Fashion Thailand, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Triumph International. Bunrawd Saiwong is the secretary of the Triumph International Thailand Labour Union (TITLU), Jitra Kotchadej works as an independent consultant for TITLU, and Sunthorn Boonyod is a manager at Labour Congress Centre for Labour Unions of Thailand (LCCLUT).
I am very concerned that the arrest warrants are being used to suppress peaceful assembly and freedom of speech in a case of labour rights violations committed by a European multinational corporation. In addition to the arrest warrants, I am alarmed by reports of excessive police brutality as evidenced by use of a military weapon, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), against the peaceful protesters.
As you may know, on June 29 Body Fashion Thailand announced that nearly half of the factory’s workforce would be dismissed by the end of August. Triumph failed to abide by ILO convention 158 and the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises which call for companies to develop and negotiate a retrenchment plan with the union, and to provide detailed information supporting the business decision behind the plan.
Naturally, the Triumph International Thailand Labour Union has rejected Triumph’s unilateral decision and called on the company to halt the retrenchment and engage in transparent negotiation with the union. This was the focus of the peaceful protest that took place on August 27 in front of the Thai Parliament.
I send this email to urge your government to:
**withdraw the arrest warrants against Jitra Kotchadej, Sunthorn Boonyod, and Bunrawd Saiwong with immediate effect;
**investigate the use of LRAD by the police on August 27, 2009 against the laid-off workers of Triumph International subsidiary Body Fashion Thailand Co., Ltd, Anyon Electronics (Thailand) Co., Ltd., and subcontractor Worldwell Garment Co., Ltd, who joined the peaceful protest in front of the parliament building;
**ensure that Body Fashion Thailand, Co., Ltd, Anyon Electronics (Thailand) Co., Ltd., and subcontractor Worldwell Garment Co., Ltd, abide by ILO convention 158 and the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;
**ensure the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech to union leaders, union members and workers in general.
Also at the same link you can send a letter to Mr. M. Spiesshofer, the CEO of Triumph International , the corporate entity behind the recent suffering of workers in Thailand and the Philippines.
Triumph workers in Bangkok demonstrated earlier this month against the planned close down of their factory by throwing bras in the air in front of the District labour office.Lingerie producer blames global recession for factory closures.
The German/Swiss lingerie multinational Triumph seems to use the pretext of the global economic recession to close down factories in the Philippines and Thailand. A number of these closures are irregular.On June 29, Triumph's producer in Thailand, Body Fashion Thailand, announced that around half of its 4200 workers would be out of their jobs by the end of August. Earlier this year, another Thai Triumph producer, Worldwell Garment Company, was closed down on Labour Day (May 1), and the entire work force sent home without their last salaries or the legally-required severance compensations.In the Philippines, 1660 garment workers will loose their jobs by the end of August when Triumph International (Philippines) Ltd. and Star Performance Inc. will close down. Neither in Thailand nor in the Philippines did the Triumph management conduct timely and transparent negotiations with the factory workers' unions as required by international labour standards.Support these Thai and Filipino workers in their struggle. Send letters to Triumph's headquarters in Switzerland today and forward this message to your friends. Your actions will make a difference!
Take action now!
Triumph cites the global recession as a major reason for downscaling their production. It is clear, however, that Triumph's actions are aimed at hampering the unions in their factories. They are closing those departments and those factories where the unions are strongest. At the same time, they are expanding a new factory in northern Thailand.Workers unions in Thailand and the Philippines have been organizing picket lines and other forms of peaceful protest agains these dishonest practises. We demand from Triumph International that they persue any major restructuring of their factory operations in cooperation with the established factory unions, rescind the dismissals, disclose the full information that led to the planned retrenchments and closures, generally operate in line with ILO core conventions as well as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.Triumph has a history of ignoring labour-rights violations in the Asian factories where they outsource the production of their luxury lifestyle products. Last year, the Swiss multinational was accused of harassing union leaders in the same factories: see www.cleanclothes.org/triumph-union-continues-fight-for-fairnessIn 2002, Triumph was also one of the last international firms to withdraw production from Burma (Myanmar). The Burmese military government has been accused of gross political repression and massive human rights violations.
Support these Thai and Filipino workers in their struggle. Send letters to Triumph today and forward this message to your friends. Your actions will make a difference!
Use this form to send the following two letters directly to:
Mr. M. Spiesshofer, Chief Executive Officer,
Triumph International AG,Bad Zurzag, Switzerland.
This is tghe proposed letter that workers at Triumph International would like you to send to the company.
Dear Mr. Spiesshofer,
Re. Triumph's reduction plans in the The Philippines and Thailand.
Through the Clean Clothes Campaign I learned about Triumph International's intention to considerably reduce the workforce at its subsidiary Body Fashion Thailand (BFT) as well as in the Triumph International (Philippines) Ltd. and Star Performance Inc. factories in the Philippines.
I also read that these retrenchments and other major restructurings were done without proper consultation with the workers' unions. The fact that the management did not engage in open and timely negotiations with the union prior to the planned dismissals is a breach of the international standards such as the ILO convention 158 and the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
I am also concerned about signs of union-busting in Triumph International's reduction plans since Triumph International seems to primarily reduce the workforce in unionised factories. In my opinion these moves could be interpreted as anti-union acts and as such could be considered as breaches of Triumph International's Code of Conduct, ILO core conventions and the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.
I was further informed that another Thai factory that produced for Triumph International, Worldwell Garment Company Ltd., was closed down in May this year and the workers have not yet received their last salaries and their full severance compensation fees that they are legally entitled to.
I am writing to you to express my serious concern about these practises. I urge you as the responsible CEO on behalf of Triumph International to intervene at your subsidiaries and to use your influence at the factories where Triumph International has been outsourcing the production in order to guarantee that the unions and workers are treated fairly.
I request you to:
**present full documentation to TITLU and the Triumph workers union in the Philippines, BPMTI, on why Triumph International has opted for the current plan to reduce the workforce in the said factories.
**restart the process of reduction of the workforce in close co-operation with TITLU and BPMTI and in accordance with current CBA, the ILO-conventions, as well as the OECD guidelines.
Keenly awaiting your response and action on these matters,