Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Infrastructure services shutting down across Thailand

Bosses and workers disagreed on whether Bangkok electricity and water unions will go ahead with their strikes and service cuts on Wednesday. Labour unions vowed to walk out, while state enterprise executives assured the public there will be no cuts in services.

The labour unions of all 43 state enterprises under the State Enterprises Relations Confederation (SERC) announced Monday that they hasd agreed to stage strikes and cut public utility services nationwide from Wednesday to support the campaign of the People's Alliance for Democracy to force the government out of office.

SERC secretary-general Sawit Kaewwan said hundreds of thousands of workers of the 43 state enterprises would stop work and join the PAD rally.

According to Mr Sawit, also a core leader of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), power and water supplies to certain government agencies, especially those dealing with security, will be cut as planned.

Aviation services of Thai Airways International will be delayed or suspended and some 80 per cent of Bangkok city buses will stop running. Land telephone lines to government agencies and the houses of cabinet ministers will be disconnected.

The Port Authority of Thailand labour union is the first to begin the strike.

Port Authority of Thailand chairman Somkiat Rodcharoen said about 3,600 employees have stopped working from 4pm Tuesday onwards, adding that the Bangkok and the Laem Chabang ports are closed indefinitely because the union will have to monitor the unrest situation in the country.

But the bosses claimed that all of this was untrue.

Secretary to minister of interior Supachai Chaisamutr said Tuesday that the governors of the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Provincial Electricity Authority, the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and the Provincial Waterworks Authority had confirmed that there will be no cut of electricity and water supply.

Mr Supachai added that the governors also insisted that their employees will not stop work to join the anti-government rally by PAD; they will do nothing that could create hardship to people.

All four state enterprises have set up plans for the worse-case scenario to ensure there will be no blackout or water shortage, he added.

The back-up plans, he said, includes the hiring of staff from other state agencies to take over the work, and to encourage the retired staff to report themselves to their agencies to prepare for the strike.

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