Trade Unionists Denounce the Coup d’état
The role of trade unions in Thai politics has been misrepresented by the right-wing union bureaucrats from the state enterprises, such as the government savings bank, electricity generation, water, railways and Thai Airways. In previous months, some of these bureaucrats and their followers, stood side by side with Sutep’s mob to overthrow the elected government. They are well-known for being conservative trade unionists as well as kowtowing to the army. Yet, the majority of employees in the state enterprises do not share their views.
Today, some progressive trade unions have issued a statement to denounce the coup d’état and the right-wing unionists who support the coup. They call themselves the “Anti-Coup Workers Group”
“Turnleft Thailand” had a chance to interview one of the “Anti-Coup Workers Group” activists from the factory belt on the outskirts of Bangkok.
How will workers be affected by the coup?
The most obvious thing is that workers cannot exercise their rights freely under the imposition of martial law. This is the period for negotiating mid-year bonuses. Many will not dare to come out to fight for better working conditions. Normally workers will put pressure on employers by protesting in front of factories while negotiations are taking place. This is banned under military rule.
How can workers cope with the dictatorship?
Basically, we try to protest against the coup by every means possible, such as wearing anti-coup t-shirts, circulating news in Facebook, issuing statements against the coup and distributing these statements secretly in factories or by placing leaflets in shopping mall toilets close to factory areas. These activities cannot be done openly and take time. We are trying to spread these activities to other provinces too. We are scared like other people and do not want to get arrested, but we have no choice but to fight back.
What are the future tasks for workers? How can workers’ struggles become a part of fighting for democracy?
There is no question that in the future we shall have to join the general struggle for democracy in society in order to strengthen it. We also will be contacting our international union affiliations to gain solidarity for our demands about democracy and elections.
Our demands are shown in the statement below.
Do the rank and file union members care about the coup?
Rank and file union members understand democracy better than some of their leaders who gave food and water to soldiers. Impressively, the rank and file workers came out to berate, as well as threaten, the union leaders that they will not pay union fees and not engage with union activities if the leaders carry on like this. Some workers even demanded that their leaders help them to take part in anti-coup activities.
The Anti-Coup Workers Group
We are the “Anti-Coup Workers Group” from industrial areas on the outskirts of Bangkok. We want to state our opposition to this coup d’état. The army stepped on our hearts and crushed the wishes of the majority of democratic Thai citizens. The coup destroyed our freedom of speech and the basic right to exercise our political views. Under normal circumstance, workers’ rights are already limited in order to favour the employers. Under the dictatorship our situation will go from bad to worse.
In previous history, workers have always had an important role in the fight against the dictatorship. In the past, after previous coups, military governments have issued new laws that severely limit workers’ rights.
We were very ashamed when we saw some sections of the trade union movement engaging with the anti-democratic thugs which sought to overthrow the elected government.
The Anti-Coup Workers Group demands….
- The immediate cancellation of martial law
- An end to the coup
- Power to be returned to the people
- The unconditional release of all arrested people
- No amnesty bill to white wash the military’s crimes