BANGKOK May 19 Labour unions representing
workers in Thai state firms have called for a strike this week
to force the government out, siding with street protesters who
have been trying for six months to get a new prime minister
The State Enterprises Workers' Relations Confederation,
whose members come from around 20 state firms, said its members
would strike from Thursday in sympathy with the protesters, who
say they are making one last push to oust the government.
"The ministers who remain refuse to resign, so we ask that
state labour unions go on strike as of Thursday. Many are still
discussing whether they will strike. But, big state
organisations, including utilities and transport companies, have
often sided with us," said Komsan Thongsiri, secretary-general
of the confederation.
"We won't cut electricity or water, but if these remaining
ministers don't step down, we might see something that we have
never seen," he added, without elaborating.
The unions would join anti-government protesters from the
People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) to try to remove
acting Prime Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan and would
take part in street rallies .
Sirichai Mai-ngam, president of the union at the Electricity
Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), said his union would
not be striking but would join the protests this week.
"We will definitely join the PDRC, but it will not involve
any stoppage. This will not affect any operations of EGAT and we
will not shut down," he said.
Unionisation in Thailand is low and mostly limited to the
Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt asked state employees
on Monday not to take part in the strike.
The protests are the latest development in a decade-old
conflict between Bangkok's middle class, powerful business
families and the royalist establishment on the one side, and on
the other side the mostly rural poor supporters of ousted former
premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who now lives in self-exile.
The protesters, led by former opposition lawmaker Suthep
Thaugsuban, took to streets of Bangkok in November demanding the
removal of then premier Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister.
She and nine other ministers were found guilty of abuse of
power on May 7 and ordered to step down, and the protesters are
now questioning the legitimacy of acting Prime Minister
Niwatthamrong Boonsongphaisan, a member of her cabinet who
They want remaining cabinet members removed to make way for
an unelected prime minister to push through electoral changes to
reduce the chances of Thaksin's allies winning power again.
Throughout the demonstrations, salaried employees from
state enterprises have backed the anti-government campaign,
alongside supporters from Bangkok's middle class.
Staff from national flag carrier Thai Airways Pcl
gathered in their hundreds to receive protest leader Suthep when
he dropped by its Bangkok headquarters last month.
The airline denied in January that flight delays were the
result of action by staff in support of the protests.
(Additional reporting by Khettiya Jittapong and Manunphattr
Dhanananphorn; Editing by Alan Raybould and Simon Cameron-Moore)