IFJ Calls on Thailand Prime Minister to Drop Anti-Union Case

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has written to Thailand's Prime Minister The Right Honourable Thaksin Shinnawatra demanding that he intervene to ensure the television network ITV, owned by his family's company Shin Corp, withdraw the appeal currently underway in the Thailand Supreme Court against 21 workers sacked by ITV for forming a union.


The 21 editorial workers were sacked on 6 February 2001 from Shin Corp owned television network, ITV after legally forming a union within the company.


The ITV workers have had three legal decisions ruling in their favour and for reinstatement since 2001: from the Thai Labour Relations Committee, the International Labour Organisation and the Thai Labour Court. The company, 50 per cent owned by Shinnawatra's Shin Corp, is now appealing this third decision in Thailand's Supreme Court.


The IFJ has also today written to the International Labour Organisation urging them to intervene to ensure that the ILO decision in the workers' favour is implemented.


"The fact that the Prime Minister of Thailand's family is a major shareholder in a company that has such a blatant disregard for labour rights and the decisions of both domestic and international labour tribunals is shameful," said IFJ President Christopher Warren in Sydney today.


"Worse still is the fact that this case has dragged on for over two and a half years. Clearly, the Prime Minister and ITV are banking on the idea that the workers will just give up and go away."


The IFJ has written several times to the Prime Minister of Thailand on this issue and the IFJ's Executive Committee passed a resolution condemning the appeal in November 2002.


The IFJ is calling on its affiliates to write letters of protest to the Thai Government and to the ILO, increasing the pressure on ITV to drop the appeal.


"Journalists around Asia see this case as extremely important in safeguarding media workers' rights to act collectively. The IFJ is working with its affiliates to act in a spirit of solidarity with their sacked colleagues from Thailand," says the IFJ.


The IFJ is also concerned that a Senator who sits on the Justice and Human Rights Committee in the Thai Parliament is representing ITV in the appeal. The IFJ sees this not only as ironic - in that the Senator is effectively acting to wind back human rights - but also as a conflict of interest.


The IFJ has called on the Prime Minister, Shin Corp and ITV to drop the case and reinstate all 21 workers immediately.


For further information, please contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668.


The IFJ has protested to the in the following letter to the Prime Minister of Thailand The Right Honourable Thaksin Shinnawatra:


5 August 2003


The Right Honourable Thaksin Shinnawatra

Prime Minister

Government House

Phitsanulok Road

Bangkok Thailand


Via email: thaksin@thaigov.go.th


Your Honour,


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over developments in the ITV case currently before the Supreme Court in Thailand.


As you would be aware, 21 journalists were sacked from ITV early in 2001 following the legal establishment of a union in the company.


According to our information, there are now the three decisions in favour of reinstatement of the 21 ITV employees sacked on 6 February 2001. We understand that the Labour Relations Committee, the International Labour Organisation (of which you have been a member for 82 years) and now the Labour Court have all ruled in favour of the employees, that the sackings were illegal, and that they should be immediately reinstated.


The decision by ITV, a Shin Corp company, to appeal the case again - this time to the Supreme Court in Thailand - puts these workers in an impossible position and shows management's blatant disregard for workers' rights.


In addition, we understand that ITV have appointed a Senator who sits on the Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the Parliament - also a prominent lawyer - to represent the company in the case before the Supreme Court. The IFJ believes this is a conflict of interest, and the Senator should withdraw from the case.


The IFJ strongly urges you, as a founder of Shin Corp, to ensure ITV withdraws the appeal and immediately reinstates the 21 journalists. Further, the IFJ calls upon you, as Prime Minister of Thailand, to uphold media freedom and human rights - including trade union rights - in Thailand.


Yours sincerely,



Christopher Warren

President


The IFJ have protested to the ILO in the following letter to the President of the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association:


5 August 2003


Mr Van Der Heijden

President

Committee on Freedom of Association

International Labour Organisation

Via email: ilo@ilo.org


Dear Mr Van Der Heijden


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation of journalists representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, is deeply concerned over developments in the ITV (Independent Television) Thailand case since the ILO ruled in favour of the employees.


Thailand has been a member of ILO for over 80 years, yet its unwillingness to comply with your organisation's recommendations, of which it has pledged support for decades, is not acceptable.


The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association forwarded its conclusions and recommendations to the Governing Body in March 2002, ruling that ITV management had sacked the 21 staffers without justifiable cause and the ILO recommended that the station rehire the workers with back pay.


Sixteen months later, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinnawatra has done nothing.


Shin Corp, founded by Thaksin Shinnawatra, now Thailand's prime minister, increased its 10% holding in the station to 39% in November 2000, which we understand is now 50%, making it the station's major shareholder. This makes it the major decision-making power of the station.


The ILO, the Thai Labour Court and the Thai Labour Relations Committee all found Shin Corp's treatment of its union employees to be unfair and unconstitutional. Despite this and much criticism from international media, the case continues with Shin Corp's decision to appeal to the Supreme Court.


At present, the Supreme Court's decision is still pending. The ITV case is now in its third year, and its 21 fired employees are still without work and continue to struggle for their democratic rights.


The IFJ is calling on the ILO to intervene and to increase pressure on the Government of Thailand to respect its international obligations, before the sacked ITV employees lose the will to keep fighting.


Yours sincerely,



Christopher Warren

President


cc Christine Evans-Klock

Director

East Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team

and Bangkok Office

ILO

Via fax: (66-2) 288-3058

Via email: evans-klock@ilobkk.or.th


cc Mr. Yasuki Nodera

Regional Director

Asia Pacific Region

ILO

Via fax: (66-2) 288-3056

Via email: nodera@ilobkk.or.th


cc Mr. Raghwan Raghwan

ACTRAV

Via email: raghwan@ilo.org


Recommended action:


Send appeals:


  • Condemning the ongoing appeal of ITV against the ruling in favour of the dismissed 21 employees.

  • Calling on the Thai Prime Minister, Shin Corp and ITV to immediately reinstate the employees.

  • Calling on the ILO to intervene to ensure that Thailand respects its international obligations in the ITV case.


  • Appeals:


    The Right Honourable Thaksin Shinnawatra

    Prime Minister

    Government House

    Phitsanulok Road

    Bangkok Thailand


    Via email: thaksin@thaigov.go.th


    Mr Van Der Heijden

    President

    Committee on Freedom of Association

    International Labour Organisation

    Via email: ilo@ilo.org


    cc Christine Evans-Klock

    Director

    East Asia Multidisciplinary Advisory Team

    and Bangkok Office

    ILO

    Via fax: (66-2) 288-3058

    Via email: evans-klock@ilobkk.or.th


    cc Mr. Yasuki Nodera

    Regional Director

    Asia Pacific Region

    ILO

    Via fax: (66-2) 288-3056

    Via email: nodera@ilobkk.or.th


    cc Mr. Raghwan Raghwan

    ACTRAV

    Via email: raghwan@ilo.org


    Please copy appeals to the IFJ Asia Office at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au


    For more information contact Jacqui Park at ifj-asia@alliance.org.au