Workers urge speedy passage of labour law

Workers urge speedy passage of labour law

Manas plays down concerns over SMEs

Labour advocates show a letter they presented to the government urging help to speed up passage of a draft amendment to the Labour Protection Law, including more generous compensation for job loss. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)
Labour advocates show a letter they presented to the government urging help to speed up passage of a draft amendment to the Labour Protection Law, including more generous compensation for job loss. (Photo by Chanat Katanyu)

The government is being urged to help speed up the passage of a draft amendment to the labour protection law amid concerns it might face opposition from National Legislative Assembly (NLA) members with business links.

In a petition lodged with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Manas Kosol, president of the Confederation of Thai Labour (CTL), said the suggested amendment to the law, intended to raise the living standards of workers, should be enacted within this year.

He said the bill, approved by the cabinet on Aug 15, was drawn up by various employers, workers and the Labour Ministry. They agreed it will not hinder the growth of industries or services but would boost the morale of workers.

The key content includes a compensation package for people who are laid off after working for a company for over 20 years that would give them the equivalent of 400 days' pay.

It also grants workers the right to take three days of paid business leave a year, and the right to terminate contracts and receive compensation if companies relocate.

Mr Manas said workers' representatives should be appointed to the NLA's scrutiny panel to ensure the committee examining the bill has a proper understanding of the amendments.

"Several members of the NLA are entrepreneurs and represent the business community. The workers have no representatives in the NLA. A few of them should be appointed to the NLA scrutiny committee," he said.

Defending the proposed compensation plan, he said thorough studies preceded it and the number of days was accepted by employers' representatives who took part in the amendment process.

He also allayed concerns the compensation proposal would hurt small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), saying those who have run their businesses for 20 years should have the potential to take care of their workforce.

Mr Manas said workers are concerned the compensation plan will be opposed by employers who may see it as a financial burden. "These workers are usually paid a minimum daily wage of 300 baht. After 20 years of working, they are not physically strong enough to find new jobs and the compensation payment of 400 days is more like a pension," he said.

Under the current Labour Protection Act, 240 days' compensation is paid to daily wage earners laid off after service of six to 10 years; 180 days' compensation for workers who have been with a company for three to six years; 90 days' compensation for those who have worked from one to three years; and 30 days' compensation for those employed from 120 days to a year.

Nikhom Songkhon, secretary-general of the CTL, said the proposed amendment is intended to address problems faced by workers.

He said women are normally allowed to take 90 days' leave after they give birth but the amendment would also allow them to take time off before they deliver their child.

"Pregnant workers often need to see their doctor for prenatal care but if they take time off for this they don't get paid. So the amendment would allow them to use their maternity leave during pregnancy and after childbirth," he said.

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