Thai airport security workers win back their basic working rights

August 11, 2021

Bangkok airport security workers have won back basic rights on working-hours after months of tough campaigning following their outsourcing in April 2020.

AVSEC, the company involved, yesterday (10 August 2021) signed a memorandum of understanding with local unions stipulating that workers are entitled to a one-hour lunch break and do not have to work more than eight hours a day.  This brings them into line with the Thai Labour Code.

Workers were forced to resign and take up new contracts with unreasonable conditions when Bangkok airport security was outsourced to AVSEC last year. The contracts obliged them to work overtime if required and to work long hours without breaks for food, or to go to the toilet.

“Conditions for Bangkok airport security workers were inhuman,” said Erin van der Maas, ITF Airports Organising Programme Lead. “Congratulations to the Wingspan Workers’ Union and Airport Workers of Thailand union for this important and hard-fought victory. But it should never have come to this. These are workers at a modern international airport and their human rights were simply swept aside in favour of penny pinching.”

The Samut Prakan Department of Labor Protection and Welfare, Airports of Thailand (AOT) which runs the airport and outsourced security, and AVSEC all committed to resolving violations of worker rights back in March. But those statements did not translate into action. The unions kept up pressure with protests and a video campaign exposing the conditions workers had to endure.

It was only this month that AVSEC, negotiating with the unions at the Department of Labour, agreed to change its terms.  The unions continue to work for the pay and conditions that were stripped away by the outsourcing deal.

“The workers and their unions stood strong in the face of threats from management and won,” said van der Maas. “They were supported in their struggle by workers from ITF aviation unions all over the world. We will keep a watchful eye on AOT to make sure they do not violate international labour standards again, and vow to support WWU-AWT workers as they continue to campaign to restore the pay and conditions stripped away when they were forcibly outsourced.”

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