JELI’s Newsletter June 2023

June has come and gone, marking a significant month for the LGBTIQ+ community, commonly known as Pride Month. During this month, many countries, including Thailand, organized various events such as Pride parades to celebrate the long- standing fight and struggles for the rights of the community. Other activities that were hosted also included public memorials for victims of hate crimes, as well as voicing platforms to advocate for inclusive policies aimed at reducing gender-based discrimination and increasing equal rights and benefits for individuals of all genders.

As for labor rights issues throughout the past month, the notable news worth considering are:

  1. Workers’ Union representatives assisted its member in lodging official complaints, following unfair dismissal and failure to compensate for overtime shift by electric vehicle charging Installation company for TESLA.
  2. Bangkok Pride group organized a massive parade advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights at the heart of Bangkok, with tens of thousands participating, demanding an end to Discrimination.
  3. An intern doctor revealed on online media the causes to her resignation, from being pressured to undertake overtime shift to imbalanced work life, sparking public debate on the well-being of healthcare professionals in Thailand.
  4. Move Forward Party labor MP advocates for union rights for convenience store workers following employee’s overwork death.
  5. The Freedom Rider Union group joined the NHRC in a meeting with relevant stakeholders to address the problems related to the misclassification of employment, resulting in them being put under constraints with no social protection nor benefits despite stipulated by laws.

For the seminar that JELI engaged in last month, it was a discussion and exchange forum on the topic of Thai-Indonesian delivery rider’s rights. The forum encouraged representatives from both countries to learn from each other regarding the situation of labor rights and their perspectives on potential changes in the future.

Important News

Workers’ Union Representatives Assisted Member in Lodging Official Complaints Following Unfair Dismissal and Overtime Non-Payment by Electric Vehicle Charging Installation Company for TESLA

On June 1, 2023, a representative from the Workers’ Union led one of its members to claim their rights, filing a complaint at the Bangkok Labour Welfare and Protection Office, Area 6, and also lodged an unfair dismissal lawsuit at the Central Labour Court.

The union took action after receiving complaints from a member who had been employed by a company providing electric vehicle charging installation services for prominent automaker Tesla. The member alleged a lack of transparency within the company, inadequate operating procedures, failing to compensate for overtime shifts, unpaid internships, and job instability. Unfair dismissals were also reported, including this member’s case, who was unjustly let go due to personal matters unrelated to work.

Source: สหภาพคนทำงาน Workers’ Union

Bangkok Pride Group Organized a Massive Parade Advocating for LGBTIQ+ Rights at the Heart of Bangkok, with Tens of Thousands Participating, Demanding an End to Discrimination

On June 4, 2023, the Bangkok Pride group, in collaboration with multiple organizations from the civil society and private sectors, organized a parade advocating for the rights of the sexually diverse LGBTIQ+ community.The event, apart from being set as a platform to promote the demands that would help to safeguard the rights of these once marginalized groups as well as to increase the visibility of the community, was amongst the broader celebration of June as Pride Month, commemorated the historical fight of LGBTIQ+ against societal stigmas and all forms of prejudice.

At the event with tens of thousands of participants, a variety of activities were held. These included concert stages, political vision and policy showcases from democratic-sided political parties representatives in support for people of diverse sexuality’ rights, and a stage dedicated for participants to pay homage to the struggles and losses of the LGBTIQ+ community.

Several demands, in addition to the main one which is to support for the equal marriage law – the right for all genders to register marriages and receive legal recognition and protection, campaigned within the event touched on both labor rights and sexual health and well-being dimensions. For instance, calling for the repeal of the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act, the repeal of the Criminal Code Section 301 on abortion offenses, and an expansion of safe abortion services.

Beyond the capital, the group Bangkok Pride also organized similar parades in various provinces across the country throughout June. This was to affirm the intent to see equality in society and to raise awareness on the lack of inclusive rights faced by sexually diverse individuals.

Sources: สหภาพคนทำงาน Workers’ Union l บางกอก ไพรด์

An Intern Doctor Revealed on Online Media the Causes to Her Resignation, from Being Pressured to Undertake Overtime Shift to Imbalanced Work Life, Sparking Public Debate on the Well-being of Healthcare Professionals in Thailand

In the Picture: Dr. Chutinat Shin-udomphorn
In the Picture: Dr. Chutinat Shin-udomphorn

On June 5, 2023, Dr. Napasorn “Puy-Mek” Veerayuthwilai, an actress and a senior orthopedic doctor at Ratchaburi Hospital, took to Twitter to share her reasons for resigning from government service. She stated that she had to face a heavy workload that was taking a toll on both her physical and mental health, a problem that many doctors faced leading them to make the same decision, even if it meant giving up job security and benefits. She later had to delete the post, fearing that it might negatively affect her former hospital.

Dr. Chutinat Shin-udomphorn, a representative from the Thai Frontline Physician Union, pointed out that what Dr. Puy-Mek experienced is common for medical interns or rotating interns, with some reportedly working up to 120 hours per week and doing shifts for over 32 hours continuously.

The root cause of such excessive work hours stems from a loophole in the Labor Protection Act that allows medical personnel to work “overtime or on holidays as necessary” with the consent of the employee, but there is no legal limit on the maximum number of work hours per week.

Apart from the issue of working hours, the news has sparked other doctors and medical students to reveal more problems that this profession has to face, such as stagnant wages, lack of increases for a long time, or even unsafe living conditions in some hospitals.

These issues, reflected through online media, have raised questions within society about the welfare and well-being of those working in the public health system. The topic of legal reform to enhance the rights of this labor group has been widely discussed. The general public has also expressed their support for positive change, believing that it will improve the efficiency of patient care.

Source: BBC News Thai

Move Forward Party Labor MP Advocates for Union Rights for Convenience Store Workers Following Employee’s Overwork Death

On June 23, various news outlets reported a case of an employee’s death inside a 7-Eleven (a nationwide convenience store chain) in Bang Toei, Sam Khok, Pathum Thani province. The deceased, named ‘Prapha’, aged 43, was found dead by the backdoor of the store wearing an employee uniform.

A co-worker mentioned that they both worked the night shift. The deceased was responsible for cash handling and also worked as a delivery rider. Prapha had complained of fatigue before walking to the back of the store. After not seeing Prapha for an extended period, the co-worker went to check and found Prapha lying dead by the backdoor. The police were then notified.

In relation to this, ‘Sia Jampathong’, a Member of Parliament from the Move Forward Party, tweeted, “There must be unions for workers in malls and convenience stores. Only then will workers have the power to negotiate benefits, wages, and working conditions. Currently, some convenience store workers are made to recite scripts to customers, as if they were robots. They also have to deliver items, handle cash, and arrange goods. The state needs to step in to ensure that these workers receive proper labor protection.”

Source: Voice TV

The Freedom Rider Union Group Joined the NHRC in a Meeting with Relevant Stakeholders to Address the Problems Related to the Misclassification of Employment, Resulting in Them Being Put Under Constraints With No Social Protection Nor Benefits Despite Stipulated by Laws

On June 29, 2023, the Freedom Rider Union group was coordinated by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to join a meeting to discuss with various platform service providers. The “Thonburi Riders” group represented delivery riders in this meeting.

Previously, the NHRC had received complaints about unfair employment practices by platform companies. These companies claimed that the “riders” were not “employees” as defined by labor law, but “partners” to the companies.

The misclassification of employment type led to riders being denied access to various rights they should have under labor law. These included benefits, social security, and the guarantees to working stability. Furthermore, the platform companies are allowed single-handedly to determine rules and practices directing the operation of business. The riders had no say in these decisions, which contradicted the term “partner” – a term that connotes a balance of power shared by both employer and employee – as the companies claimed.

However, after the discussions, the public must continue to monitor this issue until the NHRC notifies the relevant parties. Both the Ministry of Labor and platform companies must be urged to establish policies that ensure and protect the rights and benefits that riders should receive as stipulated in labor law.

Source: สหภาพไรเดอร์ – Freedom Rider Union

Meetings and Seminars

Discussion Forum on Platform Riders’ Rights: A Thai – Indonesian Exchange

On Friday, June 23, 2023, the Sedane Labour Resource Centre (LIPS), an organization advocating for labor rights in Indonesia, organized a discussion forum on gig workers’ rights, focusing on delivery and food service riders. The event was coordinated by JELI, bringing together leading representatives from the rider community in Thailand and Indonesia for an online conference. This exchange was set as an opportunity for the two to have a discussion / review on each country’s labor rights situation as well as different aspects of constraints, while evaluating for possible future developments.

Rider representatives from Thailand explained the context and circumstances of their group, which comprised of Bangkok-based riders. The group was formed to assist each other in cases of emergency, given the lack of legal protection and access to accident insurance typically experienced by those in the rider profession. In addition to this, the representatives also described the group’s membership system, which involves a monthly membership fee used to support advocacy efforts.

At a policy level, the group has been actively engaging with representatives from the Move Forward Party to highlight the precarious rights and welfare situation of riders. This group has also participated in previous exchanges and discussions with representatives from political parties, highlighting their issues at the forum organized by JELI earlier this year ahead of the recent election.