31 January 2023
HRDF urging Thai government to amend Public Procurement and Supplies Administration Act
Related to the violation of migrant workers’ rights in construction projects of Provincial Electricity Authority
During 16-17 November 2022, staff from Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) have offered legal assistance to 16 migrant workers from Myanmar in order to file their complaint with the labour inspector, the Phuket Provincial Office of Labour Protection and Welfare. It was related to the case of a construction contractor of the Phuket Provincial Electricity Authority which failed to act in compliance with the Labour Protection Act, B.E. 2541 including its failure to pay the workers their wage and issues concerning subcontract employment.
According to the workers, the construction project is handled by a joint-venture which won the bidding at the price of 210 million baht and the work has been subcontracted out. According to HRDF’s investigation, the subcontractor has violated labour rights including failing to pay their wage for their work from 22 June to August 2022. With help from HRDF, the workers have complained and submitted evidence to the Provincial Office of Labour Protection and Welfare on 17 November 2022 to have the labour inspector summon the joint-venture and to hold them accountable for the violation of the Labour Protection Act, B.E. 2541’s Section 12 which prescribes that when a employer is a subcontractor, the subcontractors at the next higher levels shall be jointly liable with the sub-contractor. In this case, the contractor shall be held liable for wage and other compensation for the 16 employees as well.
On 9 January 2023, a representative of the joint-venture (the contractor) has asked for a chance to negotiate and settle with the employees. They have also placed money for their wage with the labour inspector. After vetting the detail of the outstanding wage and the settlement, our staff have gone to the Provincial Office of Labour Protection and Welfare and enter into an agreement to receive the outstanding wage from the joint-venture for the amount of 98,200 baht on 16 January 2023.
According to the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), the government has to adopt a policy to ensure workplaces or businesses respect, promote and protect human rights including human rights of the workers and migrant workers in light of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. Several state agencies have, however, failed to adhere to the policy. The Public Procurement and Supplies Administration Act, B.E. 2560 (2017)’s Section 8 provides that procurement and supplies administration by a state agency must generate optimal benefits to the state agency and must conform with the principles of value for money, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness and accountability in the procurement process. Such legislation, however, lacks a requirement of human rights due diligence and this has given rise to cases of labour rights violation, particularly among the migrant workers employed in construction projects of the state or state enterprises and as cleaners (http://hrdfoundation.org/?p=2978, http://hrdfoundation.org/?p=2718).
Therefore, the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) urges the Thai government to adopt a clear policy to encourage state agencies and state enterprises to respect, promote and protect human rights, particularly labour rights of Thai and migrant workers. A stringent supervision measures must be put in place to ensure employers who supply, procure, and are hired or subcontracted by state agencies act in strict compliance with the labour protection law.
For more information, please contact the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF), Phuket Office, Phone 087-4230999