October has been another eventful month for JELI as we continue working on our research and media projects while also supporting various workers' groups in their organizing efforts. Here are some recent updates on what we have been up to this month:
Demanding compensation for laid off Brilliant factory workers Back in March of this year, 1,388 workers were laid off when Brilliant Alliance Thai Global closed their factory in Samut Prakan. Brilliant Co. manufactured lingerie for export to big name brands such as Victoria Secret and Lane Bryant. With the sudden closure of their factory, these garment workers were left jobless without prior notice or compensation. They are owed a total of 242,689,862 baht in wages, notice pay, and severance pay. Seven months later, the workers are still seeking compensation. Since the government has been ineffective in holding Brilliant Co. accountable, the workers are demanding that the government pay out from the central budget. This month, JELI joined Triumph Workers' Union and the Labor Network for People's Rights (LNPR) in demonstrations to put pressure on this demand. Pictures above are from the October 19th demonstration in front of the Phitsanulok Mansion.
The fight continues for labor activists facing legal harassment JELI's project manager Suthila Leunkam has been facing legal intimidation and police harassment since August for organizing labor and pro-democracy activities, along with several of her colleagues from the Labor Network for People's Rights. LNPR continues to organize "car mobs" and demonstrations outside of the police station to accompany labor activists who must report in for their cases. These public shows of support and the team of lawyers assisting in these cases have prevented any arrests thus far, but these cases take significant time and resources away from the labor activists, and affect many aspects of their personal lives and those of their communities. Though Thai authorities are clearly trying to disincentive political organizing through these legal intimidation tactics, these activists and their communities are still showing up and staying strong in the face of this adversity. JELI will continue to support them every step of the way.
Demanding the release of arrested migrant workers During a demonstration for migrant labor welfare in front of the Ministry of Labor on Friday October 29th, police arrested seven migrant workers for "lack of documentation". It was reported that the Ministry of Labor were the ones to make the call to the police. The Ministry was not only wrong for taking advantage of the situation to arrest the workers exercising their freedom of expression to demand improved labor conditions, but also because there has been a recent extension to the registration period for migrant workers. Therefore, they are being unlawfully detained. The migrant workers are being held in a government detention facility under COVID-19 security measures, and are facing deportation. JELI and the Labor Network for People's Rights have been following the situation closely, contacting legal representatives and putting pressure on authorities to immediately release these seven migrant workers, one of whom is a single mother. As of October 31st, the workers are still detained and the situation is ongoing.
JELI in the Media
The Active x JELI Podcast
On the seventh and last episode of our podcast series in collaboration with The Active, JELI researcher Chonthita Kraisrikul joins domestic worker Kanthon Pinthong from Homecare Thailand in discussing alternative platform models. While the existing models under platform capitalism offer exploitative and precarious work, what would a fair and worker-centered alternative look like? For example, what if women workers in the domestic and care industries organized to create a cooperatively-owned platform? This podcast episode explores these possibilities for a more just future. Listen to the full conversation here to explore these possibilities for a more just future (only available in Thai).
JELI on Backpack Journalist: "New Low for Platform Labor" An episode of Backpack Journalist which aired on Thai PBS on October 8th tackles the "new low" for labor welfare under platform capitalism. As this issue is a point of focus for our work here at JELI, various members of our team are featured in the video: managing director Kriangsak Teerakowitkajorn, project manager Suthila Luenkam, and advisor Sakdina Chatrakul Na Ayudhya. While the gig economy continues to expand and raise profits for platform companies, labor conditions for workers in these industries are declining. They are denied basic labor protections even though their work is essential and in high-demand, especially under the COVID pandemic. The episode addresses the issues of various app-based workers such as food delivery riders, domestic cleaners, and massage therapists. The episode is available to watch for free here on Youtube (English subtitles not yet available).
Introducing: JELI x Freedom Rider Union #RiderRights Cartoon Series
JELI is excited to announce our new project in collaboration with Freedom Rider Union, where we will be releasing biweekly cartoons exploring the situation of food delivery riders in Thailand. From lack of accident insurance to increased working hours and reduced pay, riders are facing labor violations and harsh working conditions. We are seeking to draw attention to these issues to advocate for change. Follow us on Facebook to stay up to date with new releases!