August 27, 2008
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On July 30, 2008, a Thai subsidiary of Triumph International, one of the world’s largest makers of intimate apparel, fired union president Jitra Kotchadej for wearing an unfashionable t-shirt.
She wasn’t wearing the t-shirt at work, and it wasn’t the colour or the design of the t-shirt that caused offence. It was the message on the shirt: ‘Those who do not stand are not criminals. Thinking differently is not a crime’ -- a reference to the right of people not to stand when the Thai royal anthem is played and to the abuse of Thailand’s lèse-majesté legislation to suppress political opposition.
Ms. Kotchadej was participating in a late night TV debate on women’s reproductive rights. Despite the fact that she was speaking in her private time and not in her capacity as a union leader or worker at Triumph’s Body Fashion (Thailand) Ltd. Factory, she was fired. Since then, 3,000 of her co-workers have walked out of the factory in a show of solidarity, demanding the reinstatement of their union president.
Since its inception in 1991, the Triumph Workers’ Union has been an important example of successful union organizing in the apparel sector in Thailand, representing 70 percent of workers at the company. The majority of members are women. The union views the dismissal of their president as an attack on the union, which successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement this summer.
Support their fight for freedom of expression and trade union rights! Write to Triumph today.
More information: http://www.thailabour.org/tlc08en/
Triumph International/Spiesshofer & Braun
Global Head of Supply Chain
Prasad Ramakrishnan, Triumph International
Corporate Head of Production - Global Supply Chain
Dear Leonardo Innocenzi,
I want to express my serious concern about the recent dismissal of Jitra Kotchadej, union president at your subsidiary Body Fashion (Thailand) Ltd.
Freedom of expression is a basic human right, and guaranteed within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the OECD guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. I am shocked to hear that your company does not respect this basic right, and has dismissed Jitra Kotchadej for expressing her personal opinion.
I call upon Triumph International and your subsidiary Body Fashion (Thailand) Ltd. to:
- Immediately reinstate union president Jitra Kotshadej at her previous position and without conditions;
- Take back the union members who have laid down their work in support of Jitra Kotshadej, without conditions or disciplinary actions, and with a compensation for their lost income;
- Engage in a dialogue with the union regarding the reported anti-union activities of BFT management.
I look forward to hearing from you.