Big labour group opposes protest bill

Big labour group opposes protest bill

Workers rally on Labour Day last year. A major labour organisation opposes a bill limiting public demonstrations, saying it would infringe on workers’ rights. (Bangkok Post photo)
Workers rally on Labour Day last year. A major labour organisation opposes a bill limiting public demonstrations, saying it would infringe on workers’ rights. (Bangkok Post photo)

A major labour organisation on Thursday came out against legislation limiting public demonstrations, saying it restricts the right of workers to lodge complaints with the government.

The Thai Labour Solidarity Committee submitted a complaint in a letter to National Legislative Assembly chairman Pornpetch Wichitcholachai.

TLSC chairwoman Wilaiwan Sae Tia said the bill, which passed its first reading in the NLA on Feb 26, curbs the rights of labour workers to hold non-political gatherings to voice their grievances and call on government to solve their problems.

"In the past, governments have failed to solve problems regarding economic hardship. Therefore, we have to call on those concerned to revise the bill. If it passes it without revision, it will make it harder for us to come out and make demands," Ms Wilaiwan said.

She said many of the bill's provisions infringe on the people's rights. They include the requirements that organisers of a rally inform authorities at least 24 hours in advance and not hold demonstrations within 150 metres of government buildings. It also opens legal and civil suits against those who defy authorities' orders.

Ms Wilaiwan said the bill gives too much power to the authorities, leading to possible abuse.

She called for the NLA committee vetting the bill to organise public forums to take opinions from people who stand to be affected by the legislation.

NLA member Somchai Sawaengkarn, who accepted the letter, said the protest-control bill directly concerns political gatherings. Labour rallies to raise demands with employers should be considered different from political demonstrations, he said.

Mr Somchai noted, however, that opposition from the labour sector would be considered during scrutiny of the bill, which is now being reviewed by a 22-member NLA committee.

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