JELI’s Newsletter November 2021

Welcome back to JELI’s monthly newsletter! Below you’ll find the latest updates on what we’ve been doing to support workers’ groups and promote labor justice in Thailand:


Labor activists and their legal team reporting to the police station after receiving news of new charges

Update on Brilliant workers case: Activists now facing lawsuits

Labor activists and their legal team reporting to the police station after receiving news of new charges
Labor activists and their legal team reporting to the police station after receiving news of new charges

Last month, JELI joined Triumph Workers’ Union and the Labor Network for People’s Rights (LNPR) in demonstrations putting pressure on the government to pay the 1,388 laid off Brilliant factory workers what they are owed in wages, notice pay, and severance pay (a total of 242,689,862 baht). The government has not approved the issue of central budget reserves, but the workers did receive some compensation after passing negotiations with the Employee Welfare Fund Committee under the Ministry of Labor. However, six of the labor activists involved in the demonstrations from October are now facing charges for violating the governments Emergency Decree and holding a gathering of more than five people. This is a clear example of how the Emergency Decree has been utilized as a tool of political repression against activists in the Covid-19 era. On November 30th, the Labor Network for People’s Rights submitted a letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) filing a complaint of legal harassment.

No more closures without compensation: Workers’ Union campaigning for reopening of entertainment venues

Singers, musicians and other professional service workers who work night entertainment venues have been suffering from a lack income for too long, with over 200 days of COVID closures between 2020 and 2021. On Nov. 23rd, JELI joined musicians and artists of the Workers’ Union in their demonstration putting pressure on the government to open entertainment venues on Dec. 1 as previously scheduled. The Workers’ Union submitted a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office demanding the reinstatement of the original reopening date, and that the government implement supportive measures for struggling workers such as unemployment compensation and low-interest loan offers.


FES Webinar on Platform Labor

JELI joined FES Thailand, Chulalongkorn’s Institute of Asian Studies, and the Labor Committee of Thailand’s House of Representatives in organizing a two-day webinar on “Platform workers: Ways forward for organizing and legal recognition”, held on the 4-5 November. Speakers included representatives from organized gig worker groups as well as policy experts and researchers working on this issue in Thailand and around the world. This fruitful exchange showcased the need for legal reform and other methods of guaranteeing protections and improved working conditions for app-based workers. A quote by JELI’s Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn from the meeting:

I think we must work towards two solutions at the same time. The first is reviewing the status of gig workers, or legal recognition, which must be consistent with the employment and working conditions of each job. Legal recognition may mean many things – it is not simply a question of whether or not they are “employees.” Secondly, this must be done in conjunction with a framework for regulating platform companies so that they cannot exert excessive economic power in the marketplace.

Quote pulled from a recap of the event on Prachathai

Online Regional Exchange: Shrinking Civic Space in Asia

This month, JELI participated in an online regional exchange on shrinking civic space in Asia, hosted by Solidar Suisse, the Olof Palme International Centre and Solidar. On the first day of the three-day event, JELI presented our 2021 Economic and Social Rights Monitoring Report for Thailand to our partners in the Solidar network. We recognize that with shrinking civic space becoming an unfortunate reality for many civil society organizations, trade unions and human rights’ defenders throughout Asia, solidarity building and transnational discussions of joint approaches are now more important than ever.

Thai Labor Museum Tour and Workshop on the Welfare State

On November 27th, We Fair Thailand hosted a museum tour of the Thai Labor Museum in Bangkok, followed by a workshop on the concept of the welfare state. Two members of our team were featured in this event: JELI’s project manager and labor activist Suthila Leunkam participated in the panel discussion, speaking on changing labor relations in the platform economy and its implications for the fight for workers’ rights today, while labor expert and advisor to JELI Dr. Sakdina Chatrakul Na Ayudhya led the museum tour, illuminating the often overlooked history and development of the Thai labor movement.

Media Projects

JELI x Freedom Rider Union #RiderRights Cartoon Series: Part 2

The second cartoon in our #RiderRights series draws attention to the problems that riders face with algorithmic management. Who do riders go to when their work is being managed by an ‘invisible boss’? For example, with automated HRM systems in place, riders often face difficulty appealing unfair management decisions that affect their employment. Customer complaints can lead to account suspensions, but there is no matching procedures for riders to file complaints of their own. These problems make up the daily struggle of the rider.

JELI x Freedom Rider Union #RiderRights Cartoon Series: Part 3

When riders are not the ones making management decisions, are subject to work rules and regulations, and must represent the company brand while on the job, are they truly “independent” workers? Many platform companies in Thailand further obscure their employment relationship with riders by calling them “partners”. However, the legal classification of gig workers has many implications. In many places throughout the world, there have already been multiple legal battles with corporate giants who seek to label their workers as “independent contractors” to avoid the responsibilities of being an employer. Will Thailand be next?

JELI x Way Magazine Media Production Project

The beginning of November marked the launch of our media project with Way Magazine, which explores topics from JELI’s 2020 research publication “New Forms of Platform Mediated Work for On-demand Food Delivery.” Throughout November and December, Way Magazine will be releasing various articles, infographics, and video clips on the emerging platform economy and the workers which make up this booming industry. Follow Way Magazine or JELI on Facebook to stay up to date with new releases.