On 10 July 2018, the Labor Court Region 7 Kanchanaburi was having a mediation, review of evidence, identifying dispute issues and conducting witness examination. In this case, Ms. Hla Nyunt Sein filed the case against the Petchaburi SSO as defendant no. 1 and the WCF as defendant no. 2. Previously, the WCF had made the decision no. 2/2561 on 15 January 2018 which deprived Mr. Ko, a migrant worker who had died during his work on board a fishing boat of access to compensation from the WCF. Instead, the WCF had instructed his employer to pay the plaintiff the compensation and had also dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal.
The mediation was not successful. The Court decided to press ahead with the hearings. Based on the lawsuit and statement made from both defendants, the Court has proposed dispute issues as follows;
1. Is Ms. Komkai Manit, the employer, obliged to pay contribution to the WCF as required by the Workmen Compensation Act B.E.2537 or not?
2. Is there a reason to revoke the decision no.1/2561 made on 9 March 2017 or not?
Given that most of the evidence is in possession of the two defendants, the Court shall first take evidence from them, followed by the plaintiff’s evidence. The first hearing shall take place on 12 September from 09.30-16.30.
By filing the case against SSO and WCF Committee, apart from having the WCF’s decision rescinded, the plaintiff deems that the Workmen’s Compensation Fund Act BE 2537 (1994) has been promulgated to give protection to employees including migrant workers. The fund has been provided for by law to compel employers to pay contributions to the fund, as an assurance to provide for compensation to the employees who have been injured or got sick or have died or disappeared during the course of their work. And the fund can help to advance the money on behalf of the employers. This can give the employees an assurance and make them less vulnerable to the uncertain financial situation of their employers as that might mean they might not receive the compensation at all or not receive their compensation in a timely manner.
Nevertheless, SSO has imposed terms and conditions requiring migrant workers who have got injured from work to have access to the fund only when they can produce their ID cards and work permits. Failure to produce such required documents can result in the SSO instructing the employers to be held responsible for the compensation. The avenue would pitch the employees against their employers resulting in a protracted negotiation process, bargaining putting the employees in a disadvantageous position. Meanwhile, SSO simply enjoys playing the roles of mediator and records the result of the negotiation regarding the compensation. Unfortunately, in several cases, after the SSO prepared the compensation agreements agreed to by both parties, the employers have simply avoided paying the compensation. Or they could not be contacted. In addition, the decision of WCF Committee constitutes a discrimination against migrant workers in term of their access to the fund, when compared with their Thai counterparts. This is a breach to the ILO Convention C019 – Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) 1926 to which Thailand has been a state party since 1968.
For more information, please contact Mr. Wichan Thamrai, Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), phone 087-138-7897 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org