Hoya Glass Disk (Thailand) dispute – will the union get an equal say?
Please join GoodElectronics in its Urgent Appeal and call upon Hoya Thailand, parent company Hoya Japan and the buyers to ensure that the labour union has an equal say in the resolution of the conflict, and that the dismissed workers are reinstated and compensated.
Since April 2008, in total 64 union activists were fired by the management of Hoya Glass Disk (Thailand), in a disproportionately strong response to the trade union activities of EEALU. The trade union strongly objects the grounds on which these workers were dismissed. Besides the dismissals, the union has also been experiencing general obstruction. The mass dismissal of 43 union activists on August 4th last, took place at virtually the same time as the announcement of the revocation of the trade union’s registration at the Ministry of Labour. The EEALU is calling upon the management of Hoya Thailand to reinstall the dismissed workers and to respect the workers’ freedom of association. EEALU is also objecting the revocation of its registration as a trade union.
The very recent involvement of a number of buyers at Hoya Thailand, lead by HP, seems to have created a window of opportunity for the union to finally be recognised as a partner for dialogue by Hoya Thailand.
History of anti-union incidents at Hoya Glass Disk (Thailand) in 2008
In February this year, the management of Hoya Thailand barred the union from carrying out its normal union activities within the compound of the company, as one of a series of measures to obstruct the union. EEALU has informed GoodElectronics how the management has distributed leaflets among workers and has posted messages on the internet discrediting and attacking the union.
Between April and July 2008, 6 union activists were dismissed, according to EEALU for unfounded and fabricated reasons. Two of the workers were pressured to resign; the other four cases were taken by EEALU to the Labour Court (LC) and the Labour Relations Committee (LRC) with complaints about unfair dismissal and unfair practices respectively. According to EEALU, the chances are that both the LRC and LC will grant the EEALU’s complaints. This, however, does not necessarily result in the demanded reinstatement, but will most likely bring about the payment of damages to the workers.
On May 28, Hoya Thailand asked for a court order to fire EEALU’s president, vice-president and secretary. This order has not been issued, but is still being processed.
On August 4, this series of events culminated in another dismissal order issued by the Hoya Thailand management, to fire 21 workers on the spot. All workers concerned are actively involved in EEALU, both as members of the EEALU Council Board as well as members of the Employment Committee. The workers did not immediately follow up on the dismissal order, fearing that leaving the factory’s premises could lead to them being accused for neglecting their duties. Subsequently, the Hoya Thailand management ordered security guards to forcefully drag and pull the dismissed union members outside the factory.
In addition, 22 other workers were sacked the same day, again on false grounds, according to the union.
A demonstration outside the factory announced by the union for the evening of August 4, to protest the unlawful dismissal of the union activists was obstructed by factory supervisors. Workers were told that those who joined in the demonstration before the end of the overtime period would be fired immediately.
Since August 4, another 15 union activists have been dismissed and several others have left the company, reportedly in frustration over the situation. reportedly, the factory returned to using forced overtime by making workers sign up for overtime work one week in advance.
Non respect of CBA, as well as national and international labour regulations
GoodElectronics supports EEALU in its efforts to have the dismissed union activists reinstated and to respect freedom of association. GoodElectronics points out that workers are protected by the Thai Labour Law as well as by ILO conventions. EEALU considers the August 4 dismissal order as a clear breach of Section 121 and 123 of the 1975 Thai Labour Relations Act, as workers serving on the Employee Committee can not be dismissed without an order from the Labour Court which has not (yet) been issued.
Also, GoodElectronics considers this case a clear example of the non-respect for ILO Convention 87, relating to the Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organise, as well as Convention 98, relating to the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention.
Moreover, the dismissals are in violation of the letter as well as the spirit of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was reached and signed on January 25, 2008, between the HGD-Th management and employee’s representatives, including the current Chairperson of EEALU, Mr Srithon Pruangwichatorn. Clause 13 of the CBA reads literally: “No persecution, demotion, or dismissal will be imposed upon workers who participate in making these demands.”
EEALU is calling upon the management of Hoya Glass Disk Thailand
- to reinstate the dismissed workers and compensate them for any loss of income
- to respect the Collective Bargaining Agreement of January 2008
- to respect freedom of association as stipulated by the Thai Labour Law as well as by relevant ILO conventions.
EEALU is calling upon the relevant departments of the Thai Ministry of Labour
- to reconsider the revocation of the trade union’s registration
- to carefully look into the complaints filed by EEALU in the past months.
EEALU is calling upon suppliers and customers of HGD-Th
- to convince HGD-Th to comply with the CBA as well as to national and international labour regulations
- to publish information on any steps taken to redress the risen conflict.
Trade Union Profile
The EEALU application for registration as a labour union was approved by the Ministry of Labour on December 19, 2007. This was preceded by the petitioning of the management of Hoya Thailandby 3,286 workers on December 11, in an effort to bring about improvements in the employment conditions. A general Assembly was called on January 17, 2008, which was attended by 2,960 people, all workers of Hoya Thailand. Currently, the EEALU membership sits at 3,470 workers. In December 2007, the workers who set up EEALU engaged in intense negotiations with the management of Hoya Thailand. The Collective Bargaining Agreement that was reached and signed as a results of these negotiations includes 13 clauses dealing with wage, payment of bonuses, leave regulations, provision of drinking water, petrol allowances etc.
This GoodElectronics Urgent Appeal is coordinated by Fair Trade Center Sweden.(opens in new window)
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