ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton spoke up about a dispute between Thai Airways and the ITF-affiliated Thai Airways International Union (TGU) today after it emerged that the airline is seeking damages claims against union leadership.
The claim follows a dispute from early 2013, when Thai Airways announced that there would be no basic pay rise for workers. The TGU held a two-day peaceful protest on 18-19 January last year in response to this unilateral decision.
As a result of the protest, TGU and Thai Airways management co-signed a memorandum on 19 January 2013 – which the ITF welcomed as good news.
However, the ITF has recently learned that despite this show of goodwill, Thai Airways is in the process of taking four of the memorandum signatories to court for damages caused by the protest, and intends to sue for USD10 million. The ITF understands that this is in contravention of article three of the memorandum, which states that the airline will not take any disciplinary or legal action against employees who joined the protest.
In a letter to the prime minister of Thailand, Cotton outlined the likely impact of such apparent betrayal of negotiations in good faith, writing: ‘these sorts of practices are not conducive to developing good working relations, which are essential for all aviation companies’. He urged the employer to abandon its persecution of workers and to work to regain the harmony lost in the once productive relationship between management and worker representatives.