Court orders SRT to sack 7 union bosses

Compensation of B15m set for ordering strike

The Central Labour Court yesterday ruled that the State Railways of Thailand should sack seven leaders of its employee union and ordered them to pay the authority 15 million baht in compensation for damages resulting from a strike they organised in 2009.

The court found the defendants guilty of inciting other SRT workers to go on strike, disrupting its train services and causing it serious financial damage. While it ordered the SRT to fire the seven defendants, it left it up to the agency to decide how it would go about terminating their employment.

The seven union leaders are Sawit Kaewwan, president of the SRT labour union; Phinyo Rueanphet, a union vice-president; Banchong Bunnet, a vice-president; Thara Sawaengtham, a vice-president; Liam Mokngam, a vice-president; Suphichet Suwanchatree, union secretary, and Arun Deerakchat, the union’s director for education affairs.

Mr Sawit said he would appeal against the ruling in the next 15 days.

The lawsuit was filed after the union leaders led a group of SRT employees to go on strike by halting passenger train services in Songkhla, Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala on Oct 16-27, 2009, stranding thousands of passengers in the process.

The strike stemmed from the SRT’s decision to sack a train driver after a fact-finding panel concluded that the derailment of a train on Oct 5, 2009 in Hua Hin, which left seven people dead and 88 injured, had been caused by human error.

The union leaders demanded that the SRT improve the condition of its train engines, claiming at the time that safety devices on the engines weren’t in working order.

Members and supporters of the SRT union also rallied at the Hat Yai train and other train stations around the country.

In its lawsuit against the union leaders, the SRT demanded 300 million baht in damages.

The court concluded the defendants’ actions had caused SRT to lose 81 million baht. Consequently, the court resolved to order all the defendants to pay SRT a total of 15 million baht compensation, plus 7.5% annual interest.

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