Union reports series of labour abuses at Thai oil company
THAILAND’S biggest oil company is facing a multi-pronged attack from the Myanmar government and unions after firing 18 Myanmar engineering technicians from its offshore installation in Zawtika.
PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) is already being sued by Myanmar’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population for failing to obey a labour arbitration council ruling in favour of the technicians. The company has appealed to the High Court for a review of the council’s rules.
The company is working offshore sites at Zawtika and in the Gulf of Martaba.
On September 20, Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar chair U Maung Maung announced that CTUM had submitted the case to the International Labour Organisation for action.
On the same day, the 18 Myanmar engineers dismissed by the company held a press conference at the Orchid Hotel to announce that they were supporting the approach to the ILO.
“The company is disobeying the law. We will take PTTEP to the ILO. They fired the technicians even as they were being sued by our government,” said U Maung Maung.
CTUM is also discussing the case with the ILO’s International Trade Union Confederation. The matter is expected to be discussed at an ILO conference in November.
In addition, CTUM has taken up the matter with Thailand’s Human Rights Department and the State Enterprise Workers’ Relations Confederations of Thailand with a view to taking action against PTTEP under Thai law.
“We will also engage with other unions working in PTTEP, as well as the company’s partners. PTTEO is violating workers’ rights and insulting our laws,” said U Maung Maung.
The workers are demanding an eight-hour working day, payment of overtime, extra pay for working holidays, and to be granted official Myanmar holidays.
“Yangon arbitration council and the central council have already ruled in our favour twice last year. But the company failed to comply with the councils’ rulings,” said PTTEP worker Ko Aung Phay Myint, a member of the Zawtika Offshore Myanmar Organisation (ZOMO).
Workers say the company also refuses to offer them a contract, despite an order from the councils.
PTTEP has ordered workers at its offshore oil and gas drilling platforms to undergo competence tests. The 18 dismissed workers were fired last month while sitting the tests.
They say no reason was given. The workers also complained that PTTEP had demanded US$150,000 from them as compensation for the training it said it had provided, including $50,000 for “insulting the company’s dignity”.
A PTTEP spokesperson declined a request from The Myanmar Times to comment.