Activists demand compensation for laid-off garment factory workers

Labour activists gathered at the Government House on Tuesday to demand compensation for more than 1,300 workers who were abruptly let go from their jobs at a women’s undergarments factory in Samut Prakan earlier this year.

The protest is being organized by the Labour Network for People’s Rights and the Triumph International Workers Union of Thailand.

The activists and workers is calling for the government to use the central budget to compensate 1,388 workers who were let go from their jobs without any compensation from their former employer, Brilliant Alliance Thai Global, in March.

“The government can easily use the central budget pay out the compensation worth 242 million baht if they really want to fix this problem for the workers,” said Kanjai Kaewchoo, a representative from the Triumph International Workers Union of Thailand.

Brilliant Alliance Thai Global was producing products for brand names such as Victoria’s Secret before it was relocated to Indonesia and Vietnam, according to the Just Economy and Labor Institute, a non-profit organization working to promote social justice, and local news.

The activist groups and workers said the factory closed down without prior notification to its workers in Thailand on March 11. The amount of compensation for the workers was estimated to be around 242.6 million baht.

The activist groups have been demonstrating for the workers’ compensation at various protests since March and representatives of the workers have met with Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin who said in April that the government had instructed the Social Security Office to pay the compensation for the laid-off workers.

However, the activist groups said the paying out progress has been slow and the workers said their situation had been made worse by the third wave of the Covid outbreak which began in April.

Activists and workers then staged another protest at the Government House on October 7 to demand the government to speed up the payment.

The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare said earlier this month that they have already paid out 22.3 million baht to 1,231 workers between April and August. The Social Security Office also said they have paid 65.5 million baht in compensation for job losses.

With slow progress, the activists and workers are now demanding for the government to used its central budget to pay out the remaining compensation for the laid-off workers who have been waiting for it for more than 200 days now.

They said the government is responsible because they have failed to make their former employer pay for the compensation.

The Department of Labour Protection and Welfare said earlier this month that lawsuits have already been lodged against the firm but they did not provide any update on the lawsuits.

After the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Minister Suchart came out to meet and receive the workers’ demands.

He said that a committee must be set up to find out if the central budget can be used to pay out the compensation. He said that the government must adhere to the law and international standard practices and urged the protesters for understanding.

Protest leaders from the Labour Network for People’s Rights and the Triumph International Workers Union of Thailand said the minister had promised that the government is looking to pay out another 52 million baht in legal benefits for the laid-off workers first before the full compensation can be paid.

They said another protest will be organised on October 28 when the Ministry of Labour will decide on the new round of compensation and ways to pay the full compension for the workers.

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