Thailand Trade Union Leader Reinstated by New Zealand TNC after International Trade Union Campaign
Monday 10 December 2007
On Thursday 6 December Thanetn Jhanluechai; a union leader of the SIG Packaging plant in Rayong, Thailand, was reinstated following his suspension, pending dismissal, in April 2007. SIG is owned by the Rank Group, which is in turn owned by New Zealand’s richest man, Graham Hart who owns the Carter Holt Harvey Group in New Zealand. The reinstatement came after three half day meetings over the last week between the union and Hart’s global Human Resources Manager, Kevin MacKenzie.
The reinstatement follows a global campaign of union action that was launched by the New Zealand National Distribution Union (NDU) and Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) together with two Global Union Federations.
The Thailand SIG Workers Union is affiliated to the Pulp and Paper Federation of Thailand which is in turn affiliated to UNI, the Global Union Federation that represents printing and packaging workers and the ICEM which represents pulp and paper workers.
On 19 November 2007 UNI and its New Zealand and Thailand affiliates launched a global campaign for the reinstatement of Thanetn. This saw the SIG Workers Union delivering a letter of concern to the New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok and similar letters and actions held by UNI affiliates in Australia, Japan, Turkey, Switzerland Panama, Argentina and the United States. Within 3 weeks Thanetn had been reinstated.
The terms of the reinstatement and the settlement of other matters surrounding the suspension are confidential. However we are able to report that the reinstatement is immediate and the company will withdraw the application to the Labour Court to terminate the employment of Thanetn. The company also announced that the contract of the local HR manager, whom the union blames for many of the recent problems at the plant, will not be renewed.
The campaign for the reinstatement of Thanetn Jhanluechai has been a very good example of international trade union solidarity. A strong and determined local union, internationally minded unions in the country where the parent company was headquartered, and the international organisation of the Global Union Federations all combined to make this a successful campaign. The New Zealand unions were able to use their (usually) good relations with the parent company to make representations at the top level of that company.
Hopefully the success of this campaign can be built on through the development of a Framework Agreement between the parent company and the Global Union Federations. An investigation of this possibility will take place in 2008.
“Workers of the World Unite!” has become more than a slogan and is part of the day to day work of all unions in the global economy.