The Port Authority of Thailand's (PAT) director-general has resigned under pressure from its union.
Viroj: Resignation stalls graft probe
His resignation disrupts a process to probe alleged corruption by PAT workers at the Bangkok Port in Klong Toey.
Viroj Chongchansittho tendered his resignation letter to the PAT board yesterday.
It is believed that his resignation was forced by PAT chairman Pol Lt Gen Khamronwit Thoopkrachang, who is also the city police chief.
The Thai Federation on Logistics says Sub Lt Viroj had been cracking down on corruption among port employees.
The board held a special meeting after unionised PAT employees at the port stopped working overtime last Friday evening.
The overtime ban halted cargo-handling at the port and was expected to lead to pressure for his resignation.
Sub Lt Viroj's resignation took effect from Friday evening as the overtime stoppage had harmed the PAT and the economy, he said yesterday.
"I consider the resignation as worthwhile as it can stop the damage to the government and private sectors," Sub Lt Viroj said.
The union's ban on members working overtime stemmed from a legal dispute over overtime payments going back to 2009. The PAT workers have filed around 1,200 Labour Court cases to demand payment for overtime hours.
The court ruled recently in favour of 37 workers, ordering the PAT to pay them more than 1 million baht each.
However, PAT management led by Sub Lt Viroj said it had evidence to fight the workers' claims. It said the workers had claimed overtime without working.
The port's management is preparing to appeal against the court order.
"I'm gathering evidence to appeal the cases," Sub Lt Viroj said.
"However, my resignation will stop the process of proving what was really going on at the PAT."
Sub Lt Viroj was hired as PAT director-general on June 22 last year and his contract would have expired on April 14, 2015. The PAT board has appointed PAT deputy chief Ittichai Supanakoon as the new acting director-general.
Meanwhile, Thongyu Khongkhan, chief adviser and executive of the Thai Federation on Logistics told journalists that corruption in overtime payments at the PAT is common.
PAT workers had claimed overtime for 36 port staff to load one ship, but the job only required six workers to run two loading cranes, he said.
Mr Thongyu also said freight forwarders had to pay kickbacks to port workers to ensure their cargoes were handled smoothly at the PAT's ports.
He said port workers were charging 300 baht per container and such kickbacks had totalled 420-450 million baht a year.
About the author
- Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook