THAI union gives pay rise deadline

Worker leader demands chairman's resignation

The labour union of Thai Airways International (THAI) wants the airline's board to quickly approve increases in the salaries and performance bonuses of operational level staff.

Jaemsri Sukchoterat, chairwoman of the union, said it wanted the THAI board to consider salary and bonus increases this month instead of at its next meeting, scheduled for Feb 8.

She discussed the union's demands with THAI president Sorajak Kasemsuvan yesterday. The negotiations followed a strike by about 400 of THAI's ground service staff at Suvarnabhumi airport on Saturday. The work stoppage delayed dozens of flights and affected hundreds of passengers.

After the meeting, Ms Jaemsri said she saw details of the airline's operating result and agreed with a one-month bonus instead of the union's earlier demand for two-month bonus.

However, she is demanding the airline management boost its budget for performance bonuses from 200 million baht to 500 million baht and share the sum equally among all staff, who number about 26,000.

The union also wants a 7.5% pay rise for operational staff from Level 1 to Level 7. Their present monthly salaries do not exceed 30,000 baht.

Ms Jaemsri said her union would rally again if the THAI board failed to agree to their demands.

She also demanded the resignation of THAI chairman Ampon Kitti-ampon.

She said Mr Ampon had told staff that THAI posted a profit of 7 billion baht. The information had arrived from him before it was reported to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, she said.

Ms Jaemsri said that later Mr Ampon said airline management would pay a one-month bonus and boost staff salaries by 4%.

His announcement created confusion among staff, who were aggrieved by what they considered to be a poor offer which they say Mr Ampon was not in a position to make, as the board had not yet approved it."In the past, the THAI chairman never informed staff of an operating result directly before it was reported to the stock exchange," Ms Jaemsri said.

"The chairman is duty-bound to supervise policies, instead of interfering with management in a way that confuses staff and giving inaccurate information that [adversely] affects the organisation."

Ms Jaemsri said THAI staff deserve what they are demanding as they help the airline earn profits and tolerated the suspension of bonus payments when the airline was suffering losses.

She said the board never cut their own meeting allowances and bonuses, which were fixed at 0.5% of the airline's profit.

THAI president Sorajak said management agreed not to punish the staff who had gone on strike. However, if THAI ground staff stop working again, the management will resort to outsourcing which meant flight delays would be be limited to 15 minutes only, he said.

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Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook
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