The Labour Relations Committee (LRC) has denied permission for the Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF)’s staff, as an authorized representative of the four migrant workers from Myanmar to make a copy of the arbitration decision no. 102-106/2562. It stems from the complaints lodged by the workers in Mae Sot against the employers in which they alleged the termination of their employment has resulted from their being leaders of the workers to submit the demands to the employer. And they find this an unfair treatment. The migrant employees want to have a copy of the decision in order to apply to the court to have the ruling rescinded. LRC verbally denied the attorneys’ access to the memo of opinion of LRC, the witness testimonies, and other evidence submitted by the employers. The attorneys have thus appealed the decision with the Office of Government Information asking them to order the disclosure of such information. But the Office of Government Information claims they cannot order such disclosure since no Ministerial Regulation has been issued by virtue of the Official Information Act 1997’s Section 9 to provide for the right of aliens to have access to such information.
The Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) and allied organizations find that the refusal to disclose information by both authorities is an act incompatible with the law and human rights since;
- Even though the employees are migrant workers and non-Thai nationals, but they are parties in the labour dispute with their employers. Therefore, they must be treated as direct stakeholders and have the legitimate right to have access to information regarding the decision of theLRC including the memo of opinions of the Labour Relations Committee/Subcommittee, witness testimonies, and other evidence submitted by the employers. This would ensure they are informed of relevant facts and reasons and can use the documents to seek a recourse to justice as well as to apply to have the court rescind the decision, the act of which is an exercise of a legitimate right.
- Officials of the Office of Government Information refused to disclose information requested by legal representatives of the migrant workers claiming there is yet a Ministerial Regulation to provide for the disclosure of information to aliens. This shows that the officials have expressed their opinions without having the understanding of the law and human rights. The Official Information Act has been promulgated since 1997, over 20 years ago. Until now, the authorities have failed to issue Ministerial Regulations to ensure aliens have access to the information. By denying the right claiming there is no Ministerial Regulation, it reflects the attitude that “when there is no law (to provide for rights), there are no rights”. This, however, stands contrary to the notion that “everyone is born with all of the rights and freedoms, save for when there is restriction by law” The principle has been adopted in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand 2017’s Section 25 which stipulates that;
“A person shall enjoy the rights and liberties to perform any act which is not prohibited or restricted by the Constitution or other laws,"
Therefore, should there be no Ministerial Regulation to prohibit the disclosure of information concerning the opinions of the Labour Relations Committee/Subcommittee, witness testimonies, and other evidence submitted by the employers, to the employees who are migrant workers, the employees shall have the right to make a copy of such documents from the LRC and it is incumbent on the Office of Official Information to order the disclosure of such information to the employees.
- Apart from showing their ignorance or disrespect to the legitimate rights of migrant employees, the officials at LRCand the Office of Official Information may be unaware of the fact that Thailand has been a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) since 2003. The refusal to disclose such information could be tantamount to an act of discrimination, a breach to Thailand’s obligation to the Convention and a breach to the Constitution’s Sections 4 and 27 concerning equality and non-discrimination as well.
HRDF and alleged organizations thus call on the Labour Relations Committee (LRC) to promptly provide a copy of information and documents as requested to our staff who are authorized representatives of the four migrant workers.