THAI staff up in arms at benefit cuts

THAI staff up in arms at benefit cuts

Labour Ministry to invite execs for talks

Thai Airways International staff at Suvarnabhumi airport prepare for ground handling services on May 26. 2020. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Thai Airways International staff at Suvarnabhumi airport prepare for ground handling services on May 26. 2020. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Labour Ministry will invite the management of Thai Airways International (THAI) for talks over a complaint submitted on Friday to the ministry by the airline's labour union over unreasonable cuts in work benefits, especially healthcare welfare, according to the labour union.

Nares Puengyaem, the president of THAI's labour union, along with two representatives of State Enterprises Workers' Relations Confederation (SERC), yesterday submitted to Sutthi Sukoson, the permanent secretary for labour, a letter complaining about reduced work benefits.

Despite good cooperation by THAI employees to comply with the company's policy to slash salaries and other types of money paid to them by between 10% and 50%, effective last Monday, management had gone too far in its bid to tighten the belt by cutting several work benefits, particularly health welfare, said Mr Nares.

Previously, THAI employees received medical care services at contracted hospitals, he said.

But now, they are asked to first pay for their medical bills out of their own pockets and later request reimbursement from the airline. This came as a huge financial burden to many THAI employees, he said.

These employees are left with no other choice when it comes to accessing medical care as they are still unable to immediately switch to either the universal healthcare scheme or the social security system's healthcare programme, he said.

Despite the company's assertion that THAI has become a private company, many employees have been unsuccessful in switching to these two healthcare schemes because of some technical problems, he said.

The cancellation of a shuttle service for staff working the graveyard shift has also resulted in security being compromised for many female staff travelling on their own at odd hours and a massive rise in their travel costs, especially for those working at airports located far away from city areas such as Phuket airport, he said.

Araya Kaeo-pradap, one of the SERC representatives, said these problems should have been settled through dialogue, which she had not observed at this organisation.

In a separate development, Thai Lion Air (TLA) and Thai AirAsia X have both asked to suspend their flights for another month, according to a source citing information provided by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.

Both airlines had previously been allowed to suspend their flights from March until the end of this month.

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