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Strategies for the Next Decade:

New Vision of the Thai Labour Movement Declared

The Thai Labour Solidarity Committee(TLSC) is a network of labour organisations in Thailand formed in 2003. Its primary goal is to revive and build up a strong and united labour movement in order to voice concerns of workers facing various difficulties resulting from economic crisis and political transformation. At that time, the Thai labour movement was weak and fragmented as workers’ unions of state enterprises were divided from those of the private sector

Since its formation, the TLSC has acted as a voice for the labour rights of all groups of workers including formal, informal and migrant workers. Its actions cover all issues which concern workers, at both a policy and an operational level. Workers facing problems on labour rights often ask for assistance from the TLSC. However, progress on some issues has been held back due to obstacles from both within and outside the organisation.

On its tenth anniversary, the TLSC reviewed its role, successes, obstacles and direction for the future. There was consensus that it remains difficult for workers to access “decent work” especially in informal forms of employment. The labour movement is still weak and lacks effective negotiation power. New challenges for the future are also emerging as a result of economic integration in the region. Therefore, it is necessary for the TLSC to develop new strategies to strengthen both the organisation and the labour movement as a whole in order to be able to tackle both old and new challenges effectively.

Consequently, the TLSC has implemented a project on “Labour Strategies for the Next Decade”. Key events have been conducted as follows; the first workshop held on 24 June 2012 was aimed at gaining consensus and support from union leaders. The second workshop held on 8-9 August 2012 was aimed at preparing key points for the new strategies with union members and workers. During August –December 2012, over 10 workshops were organized in most key industrial areas in order to compile expectations, views and suggestions from workers. Information gathered was developed into the “Labour Strategies for the Next Decade” at the workshop on 9-10 January 2013. The National Congress was organized for the 27th of January 2013 to move towards strategic implementation. Key strategies include:

  • 1. Be a leading force shape a society which is just and equitable
  • 2. Change the legal framework and social context to create a more union friendly environment, especially on the rights to association and collective bargaining
  • 3. Increase the quantity of unionization through organization and education
  • 4. Improve the unity, efficiency and effectiveness of labour organisations through merging, restructuring and self-finance.

Over 1,200 workers from more than 100 unions joined this event and endorsed its strategies. Representative of ILO, FES, SC, BWI, LO Norway also joined and expressed messages of congratulations and appreciation to the Thai labour movement and TLSC.

FES has worked closely with TLSC since in the beginning of this project, has co-hosted all three important workshops and National Congress on the 27th of January 2013.