JELI’s Newspaper January 2023

The first month of 2023 has passed, with several crucial events and issues related to labor in Thailand to be considered, such as:

  • A large rally was held by the Bangkok Bank Labor Union in front of the bank’s headquarters on Silom Road to follow up on demands for the bank to provide financial assistance and secure benefits for its employees.
  • The Bangkok South Criminal Court allowed the case of Angkhana Neelapaijit, human rights defenders, to be merged in adjudication with the other 2 defendants prosecuted for the same cause. Their cases’ background related to the video posted online exposing harsh working conditions in the chicken farm owned by the conglomerate. March and May this year were set for both parties’ witnesses to testify.
  • The Criminal Court has sentenced “Sitthichoke”, a former delivery rider, an imprisonment of 3 years and 6 months. He was alleged of violating the national security related law “Lèse-majesté” from pouring oil to a fire already burning pedestals of King Rama X and Queen’s portraits, and was later denied bail.

For meetings and seminars, JELI and representatives from the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) joined in a bilateral meeting that took place in Bangkok to discuss future partnership /cooperation, identify potential actions on advocacy, and exchange ideas focusing on the strategic directions in delivering a real change.

In this year, JELI has also received funding to work to support and strengthen the organizational structure of informal workers groups in the field of agriculture. We have discussed with two experts specializing in the field, and initially decided to work together with two groups of workers in Lamphun and Chiang Mai province.

In March, JELI is preparing to organize a public exchange and discussion event on means and policies to improve the working conditions of platform-based delivery riders. The event will invite representatives from political parties to engage with riders to learn about their demands, while setting a forum for each party to present their policies in relation to such matters.

Lastly, we are delighted to welcome a new member to JELI – Aranya Pakaphat, our new program coordinator. She has many years of professional experience in the field of human rights, with expertise particularly in worker rights. Her role is to bridge between different stakeholders in different programs.

Important News

The Bangkok Bank Labor Union Set Up a Rally to Follow Up on the Revocation of Benefits and Reduction of Annual Leave Accrual.

11 Jan 2023 – The Bangkok Bank Labor Union scheduled a rally in front of Bangkok Bank headquarter at Silom to expedite the consideration of financial aid for employees affected by the economic crisis, and to resolve labor disputes regarding working conditions, which are the two most urgent demands. This rally was held following the submission of the appeal letter with 15 demands last year and so far, the resolution process has not been progressed.

Read in Thai:

The Bangkok South Criminal Court Allowed the Case of “Angkana”, Former Member of NHRC, to Merge with Other 2 Human Rights Defenders’ Cases, All of Which Stemmed from A Video, Produced by Fortify Rights, Exposing Harsh Working Conditions for Workers in A Chicken Farm. Such Cases Reflect the State of Laws Being Weaponized to Suppress the Rights to Expression on Public Concern.

16 Jan 2023 – The Bangkok South Criminal Court has allowed the case of human rights defender Angkhana Neelapaijit, former member of National Human Rights Commission, to be merged with the cases of two more human rights defenders, one of which was Puttanee Kangkun – the director of The Fort foundation, making a total of 5 cases. All of these related to the video, exposing the illegal practices and harsh working conditions in certain chicken farms owned by one animal farming company, produced by the international human rights organization Fortify Rights.

The court set a schedule to testify the plaintiff’s witnesses on 14, 15, 16, 17, 21 March 2023, while 22 – 23 March and 23 – 24 May 2023 were set for the defendants.

Read in Thai:

The Criminal Court Ruled a Verdict to Imprison “Sitthichoke” Food Delivery Rider for 3 Years 6 Months Due to Him Being Alleged of Pouring Oil to Fuel a Fire Burning the Pedestals of the King and Queen’s Portraits; the Court Considered His Act of Damaging the Portraits Equivalent to Disrespecting the Monarchy Personally. He Was then Taken to prison and Later Was Denied Bail by the Court of Appeal.

17 Jan 2023 – The Criminal Court has sentenced “Sitthichoke Saet-Tha-Sawet” (age 26), a food delivery Rider, to 3 years and 6 months in prison for insulting the monarchy, arson of someone else’s property, and causing damage to property according to the criminal law provisions 112, 217, and 358, as well as violating the emergency decree in effect during the pandemic. He was alleged of pouring a flammable liquid, similar to oil, onto a pile of burning garbage under the pedestals of the King Rama X and the Queen’s portraits situated in the middle of Ratchadamnoen Nok avenue, near Phan Fah Lilat Intersection. The incident occurred during the pro-democracy demonstration on 18 July 2020.

Despite several attempts of bail application, the Court of Appeal still refuses to release the defendant. He was sent to a prison on the same day of the delivery of judgment and later declared a hunger strike in tandem with 2 pro-democracy activists “Bam” and “Tawan” to call for the rights to post bail in political cases and the reform of laws that violate rights.

Read in Thai:

Meetings and Seminars

Meeting Representatives from Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC) to Discuss on Project Collaboration in the Future.

11 Jan 2023 – JELI held a discussion with the representatives from the Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC), an organization working to support labor issues in Asia, assist pro-democracy worker movements, raise awareness on worker rights and gender equality, as well as promote participation of workers in resolving workplace-related rights issues.

The discussion took place to explore the potential of collaboration between JELI and AMRC in the future: for instance, JELI can help facilitate as a coordinator in fieldwork or organize workshops to educate workers on labor rights and gender equality issues, given JELI’s leveraging expertise in these areas.

JELI’s Upcoming Projects

JELI Has Received Funding from USAID for a Project to Support and Empower Female and Migrant Agricultural Workers in an Informal Economic Sector.

Under the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), this year JELI will work to strengthen the organizational structure of and empower female and cross-border migrant workers in the agricultural sector. These workers are part of the informal sector who lack the legal rights and benefits compared to those of Thai counterparts.

JELI has consulted with two experts in this field: Asst. Prof. Songphan Tantrakul and Dr. Sudarat Musikawong, and established the scope of work with two groups of labor – the migrant worker group in Lamphun province and the female worker group in Chiang Mai province.

Follow JELI’s social medias for more info on this upcoming project

Public Discussion Panel on Strengthening Workplace Safety Policy for Riders on Delivery Platforms

17 March 2023 – Under the support of the GLP-POWER project, JELI will collaborate with Phansuk Production Co., Ltd in hosting a seminar and discussion event at Bangkok Art & Culture Centre (BACC). The purpose of this event is to explore ways to create a working related policy that protects the safety of platform-based delivery riders, with input from delivery workers themselves. In addition to this, JELI plans to invite representatives from political parties to provide information about the policies of the parties that may play a role in enhancing safety for riders at the structural level. This will involve working directly with political mechanisms.

Follow JELI’s social medias for more info on this upcoming project

New Member of JELI

Aranya Pakaphat – Program coordinator

Aranya has years of experience working in the field of human rights, workers’ rights, social dialogue, and Peacebuilding. Among others, she was trained by the ITCILO and the Global Labour University.