Women call for workplace rights
On the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand, working women yesterday called for rights entitled to in their workplace, and to recognize all jobs held by women as proper jobs.
On the International Women's Day of 8 March 2008, over 200 working women from several different work backgrounds marched on the streets to the square of Three Kings Monument of Chiang Mai, holding and shouting their slogans, demanding to have better conditions at their workplace.
Their focus of demand was on the rights of women workers, such as domestic workers, factory workers, women from other occupations, including sex workers. It involves both of migrant and non-migrant women workers in Thailand.
Jackie Pollock, Coordinator for Migrant Assistance Program (MAP) Foundation said at the rally, "Women are being discriminated and treated unfairly in their workplaces because they are not protected by any law in the country".
"I used to work as a domestic worker before in Thailand. I had to work hard and there was not much rest time and the salary was very low for me. So, now I want to call for fair pay and to have enough time for rest," said a woman participant at the rally.
The statement released on International Women Day yesterday urged:
- Take a look at the constructions sites where we work, perched high above Chiang Mai with nothing to protect our safety! These sites are not safe.We need safe working conditions!
- We work in the industrial estate in Lampoon, manufacturing electronic products. We are exposed to lead poisoning. We need the right to collective bargaining to improve the protection against such exposure!
- We work like other women work, but we get no recognition or acceptance of our work because we work as sex workers. We want recognition as workers now!
- Our Burmese sisters work in garment factories on the border. They are paid much less than the legal minimum wage. To get a living wage, they must work overtime every night! We demand not less than the minimum wage for all workers!
- We work in the fruit and flower farms around Chiang Mai. We come from the mountains of Thailand, Laos and Burma. We have to spray pesticides which we know are dangerous to our health. We need proper protective clothing!
- We work in private households as domestic workers. Our work is not protected by the labor laws. We are dependent on our employers, but some are fair and some are not fair at all. We need rights under the law. We need one day paid a week!
"All women's work is work even if it is housework, cleaning, washing, cooking or sex service, but they are not recognized by law as workers," Jackie added.
The press release said, "In 1908, 15,000 women marched through the streets of New York demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights. A hundred years later, women still suffer unfair and unsafe working conditions and still we march for our rights".
It is estimated that there are around 1 million women migrant workers in Thailand the number registered in 2007 was 56,899, according to MAP Foundation.