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Experts seek more protection for subcontract and outsourced workers

The limited number of labour unions and lack of clear legislation means those employed under subcontracts or outsourcing deals have fewer rights and are often paid less, said Lae Dilokvidhyarat, an economics professor at Chulalongkorn University and expert on labour issues.

"This law should be amended so subcontract workers can also join labour unions," Lae said at a symposium on Thursday held by the National Human Rights Commission's Subcommittee for Strategic Operations on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights.

However, he said the plight of subcontract and outsourced workers was not likely to be addressed unless there were a loud public outcry demanding an improvement.

Yongyuth Mentapao, chief adviser to the Federation of Thailand Automobile Workers' Unions and general secretary of the Confederation of Thai Electrical Appliances, Automobile and Metal Workers, said 70 to 80 per cent of subcontract or outsourced workers had no job security and were paid less than permanent workers.

"Some of them are migrants and some are students used [as subcontract workers] in the electronics industry. Even soon-to-retire rank-and-file soldiers were found to be working under such arrangements," Yongyuth said.

However, Bongkot Chaemthawee, president of the Ayutthaya-based Personnel Administration Club, said subcontract workers were a necessity, as demands for some products, such as air-conditioners, rose during certain seasons or when a factory had a temporary upsurge in orders.

He said subcontract workers sometimes even lost out on basic benefits, as some factories provided them with less comfortable transport than that allocated for permanent workers.

Lae said that even in the banking industry, once considered a bastion of employment for life, certain jobs like those computer technicians and debt collectors were being outsourced.

"There's no job security even in the banking industry," Lae said.


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