JELI’s Newsletter September 2021

September has been another busy month for the JELI team. We are continuing our important work of supporting workers’ groups and helping to promote labor justice in Thailand through our research, legal advocacy, and organizing. Below you will find the most recent updates related to the work we have been doing here at JELI:


Demanding a social security system that works for the people

After a corruption scandal concerning Thailand’s Social Security Office (SSO) hit the news last year in September 2020, the Labor Network for People’s Rights (LNPR) initiated a campaign demanding reforms to this government agency which had already been failing to serve the struggling workers and other groups throughout the pandemic. Their demands were:

  1. Reform the SSO system of investments to be more transparent (the SSO invests some of the money they receive from the public’s social security payments, in order to increase their funds. The problem is that the public has been unaware of what these investments were up until this point)
  2. Reform the SSO to be independent of political influence, and allow public participation
  3. Demand that the government immediately pays the 87 billion baht that they owe to the SSO (Social security payments come from three places: workers, employers, and the government)
  4. Expand social security benefits to cover everyone, including vulnerable groups such as the poor, the elderly, and migrant workers
  5. Allow people to borrow money from social security at a low interest rate

Eleven months later on September 8, 2021, LNPR held another demonstration in front of the SSO building to apply pressure and follow up on these (largely unanswered) demands. Given the ongoing vaccine crisis in Thailand, they added one more item to their list: Provide mRNA vaccines to all members of the public, regardless of insurance plan or nationality.

LNPR assured that they will be back on the World Day for Decent Work on October 7th if the SSO does not show progress on these demands.


What does women’s participation under platform capitalism look like? JELI looks at platform-mediated care work as a case study.

Care work is essential but undervalued under capitalism. Most paid care workers are women working in the informal economy for low pay and under poor conditions. Are platform companies in the various fields of care living up to their promise of a safer and more secure alternative? In an online webinar hosted by the Asia Monitor Resource Center, Dr. Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn presented JELI’s newest research on women care workers in Thailand’s gig economy. JELI conducted this research throughout June 2021-January 2021, surveying 300 women domestic workers and massage therapists. We found that the promises of the gig economy are not being realized, and that precarity is the norm for these workers. There will be a chance to read more on this in our forthcoming publication!


JELI stands in solidarity with our friends at AMRC, and condemns the crackdown on civil society and organized labor in Hong Kong

With the introduction of the National Security Law in Hong Kong in June 2020, and the government crackdown on CSOs and labor groups in recent months, Hong Kong’s civic space is shrinking right before our eyes. The Asia Monitor Resource Center is one such group that has been affected. AMRC has been working with grassroots labor organizations in Asia to promote and advance labor rights across the region since 1968. But after facing increasing pressure from the authorities and pro-government media, AMRC has decided to cease their operations in Hong Kong. As one of the many NGOs who have partnered with and received support from AMRC, JELI sees this as a great loss.

We joined 278 other organizations in stating: “We, the undersigned organizations, strongly condemn the increasing intimidation of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Hong Kong by the authorities and pro-government media. We urge the Hong Kong SAR government to stop arresting, detaining, and prosecuting CSO activists who rightly exercise their civic and democratic rights. We also urge pro-government media to stop smearing and accusing CSOs in Hong Kong with groundless reports…”

Read the joint statement in full here.

IndustriALL Global Union calls on the Thai government to stop harassing labor activists

Prominent labor activists and union leaders in Thailand have been facing legal intimidation and police harassment for their participation in pro-democracy activities. Among those that have been targeted are Sia Jampathong, Tanaporn Wijan, Sriprai Nonsee, and JELI’s own Suthila Leunkam. IndustriALL Global Union and their affiliate, the Confederation of Industrial Labor of Thailand (CILT), called on the Thai government to guarantee the right of the people to participate in peaceful demonstrations and respect international core labor standards, stating that,

“It is unacceptable that the government suppresses workers’ freedom of expression, especially given their failure in managing Covid-19 and delaying vaccinations which has caused a large number of deaths. The harassment must end immediately.”


The Active x JELI Podcast

The sixth episode of our podcast series in collaboration with The Active is out now! On this episode, Dr. Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn and labor activist Suthila Luenkam from JELI have a conversation with app-based domestic worker “Mai” about discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault in her line of work. What do women workers in the gig economy do in these situations, when platform companies offer them little to no protections? How can we make this work safer for women? Listen to the full conversation here (recorded in Thai).

JELI On Clubhouse

JELI’s team participated in quite a few interesting discussions on Clubhouse this month. On September 11th, JELI researcher and fierce women’s rights activist “Neab” Chonthita Kraisrikul spoke with Safe Abortion Thailand on the topic of abortion being a right of all women, and the need to expand welfare to include access to safe abortions. On September 21st, Neab also joined our managing director Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn in speaking with Join Rights Club on issues that app-based delivery riders are currently facing in Thailand and abroad, such as the legal misclassification of their employment status.

Follow @kteerako and @chonthita on Clubhouse or look out for announcements on JELI’s Facebook to stay tuned in for future conversations.


Link With Us

JELI’s LinkedIn is up and running! We will be using this platform to post regular updates on our work in English, and share relevant news and information regarding labor and social justice in Thailand.

Give us a follow:

Take Action

Demand that food delivery companies provide accident insurance for their workers

"Don't wait until we die. Food delivery platforms must guarantee accident insurance for every rider!!"
“Don’t wait until we die. Food delivery platforms must guarantee accident insurance for every rider!!”

Delivery riders spend upwards of 8 hours daily on the streets, in a country with one of the highest road accident rates in the world. But because they lack “employee status,” platform companies claim they are not obliged to provide basic protections such as accident insurance. With the alarming rate of riders getting severely injured or dying in road accidents, the Freedom Riders Union of Thailand organized a petition demanding that Grab, Line Man, Food Panda and all food delivery platforms provide insurance for their workers. Read more about this issue (available in TH and ENG) and sign the petition here: