Transport Ministry bows to bus workers' union demand

Transport Ministry bows to bus workers' union demand

Staff of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority rally in front of the Transport Ministry on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Thodsapol Hongthong)
Staff of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority rally in front of the Transport Ministry on Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Thodsapol Hongthong)

The Transport Ministry bowed to demands of protesting workers of the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority on Thursday and agreed to proceed with buying 3,000 new buses for the state enterprise, instead of allowing a private takeover.

The about turn followed a rally by about 300 members of the BMTA labour union outside the ministry on Ratchadamnoen Avenue on Thursday morning.

The workers strongly opposed the ministry's plan to franchise more private bus operators to provide services, replacing services operated by the loss-ridden BMTA.

Their representatives were allowed inside to discuss the issue with Suchart Chokchaiwattanakorn, vice minister of transport.

After the meeting, Mr Suchart said the ministry would proceed with the old cabinet resolution for the procurement of 3,000 new buses for the BMTA to operate. However, the ministry had not agreed with the demand by the bus workers' union that the BMTA would operate at least 137 routes, with the others going to private operators.

A study would determine the appropriate number of routes for the BMTA, and the final figure could be more or fewer, he said.

The two sides agreed that the BMTA would sell one-day travel passes costing 30 baht each to help lower costs for Bangkok commuters, Mr Suchart said.

BMTA workers' union president Boonma Pongma said the union also urged the Transport Ministry to quickly appoint a new executive board. There had been no board for about six months, and this was delaying BMTA projects.

He said the labour union had also sought support from the opposition, in case the Transport Ministry makes policy decisions that adversely affect employees of the city bus state enterprise.


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