Thailand: Anti-Government Transport Strikes

Updated On: Sep 01, 2008

The showdown between the Samak government and the Peoples Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is escalating on Fri 29 Aug and spreading across the country, affecting transport on trains and planes.

Thai railway workers stopped most trains nationwide in sympathy with anti-government protesters in Bangkok. At the same time, PAD activists blocked the vital gateway airports at Phuket, Hat Yai and Krabi in the South, stranding thousands of foreign tourists. Thai Airways International staff also threatened to join the anti-government strike.

Hundreds of anti-government demonstrators at the three southern airports set up stages for a protest sit-in. Flights continued to operate for a few hours.But passengers found it difficult or impossible to enter the airport buildings at the two tourist-heavy locations and all flights were cancelled to all three airports later Friday afternoon.

Police said they hoped they could negotiate with the protesters to clear the airport entrances. But the situation looked likely to get worse instead of better, after Krabi International Airport became the third airport to be blockaded.

The union of the national airline Thai Airways International told its 15,000 members they can take sick leave to show disapproval of the government actions against the PAD.

Earlier, the State Railway of Thailand workers' union announced a sick-out to halt all trains nationwide for an indefinite period.

SRT union chief Pichet Suwanchatree travelled to the South to oversee the shut down of the critical railway junction in HaT Yai district. He said all trains to and in the South had stopped running as of Friday.

Services to the North and Northeast slowed on Thursday and apparently stopped completely on Friday. SRT Nakhon Ratchisima union leader Sathorn Sinpru said more than 100 union members, including 40 railway engine drivers, have taken sick leave for at least two days, beginning on Friday.


Source: Bangkok Post, 29 August, Transport Strangled, http://www.bangkokpost.com/topstories/topstories.php?id=130106

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