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Anti-government campaigns

No halt to water and electricity, unions say

Workers at state facilities set to take part in PDRC campaign this Thursday

There will be no halt to services by state enterprises providing public transport and delivery of electricity and tap water by utility workers who plan to take part in anti-government campaigns led by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC).

Leaders of their labour unions said yesterday that the protests were set to take place from Thursday.

The chairman of Thai Airways International's union, Somsak Manop, said all 15,000 unionists, almost the entire THAI staff, could be asking to take leave en masse from May 22-26. The en masse leave would go ahead if a PDRC campaign to seek out Cabinet members and encourage them to resign did not work. The so-called hunt for the ministers will be launched today, and Somsak said some THAI union members might take part in it.

The chairman of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand's labour union, Sirichai Mai-ngar, said a joint agreement by the state enterprises declared that the public would not be affected by the unions' planned walkouts on Thursday in support of the PDRC.

The unions of utility authorities had agreed, after a joint conclusion on behalf of the State Enterprises Workers' Relations Confederation (SERC), that they would use massive leave breaks on Thursday to show their support for the PDRC. He said it was not a strike, which would be in violation of labour laws.

The chairman of the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority's labour union, Somchai Sriniwes, said tap water would be kept flowing to households. Staff leave-taking would not be done with union approval, but voluntarily and based on democratic principles.

The chairman of the State Railways of Thailand's labour union, Amphon Thongrat, said the union would meet today to make a decision on its stance on the SERC's request. He expected it would remain similar to previous conclusions - that there would not be massive leave-taking, but staff were welcome to take up their right to protest.

The governor of the Provincial Electricity Authority, Numchai Lowattanatakul, said the PEA's workers would not declare a strike, but staff who wished to take leave might exercise their rights on their own.

The PDRC yesterday reportedly set up three teams of core leaders and supporters to contact three ministers: the first team led by Issara Somchai was to approach caretaker Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapong-pisal at his home; the second team led by Taya Teepsuwan was aiming for the home of caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt; and the third team to the home of Banharn Silapa-archa, chief adviser to the Chartthaipattana Party.

The third team would be led by many core leaders and would comprise a large number of supporters.

The team aimed to question Banharn about two ministers in his party's quota who are rumoured to have submitted their resignations.

PDRC core leader Thaworn Senneam earlier said he had learned that the caretaker minister of tourism and sports Somsak Pureesrisak and agriculture and cooperatives minister Yukol Limlamthong had resigned.

Former deputy House speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai yesterday called on caretaker Prime Minister Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan to exercise his power under Defence Ministry regulations to make sure that military units would take over utility operations if the delivery of electricity and tap water were halted.


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