A new law allowing civil servants to have labour unions was given the green light by the Office of the Civil Service Commission (OCSC) yesterday, according to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, who chaired the meeting to consider the matter.
The proposed legislation allows for four types of unions for civil servants, ministry officials, department officials and provincial officials. However, when promulgated, the royal decree would regulate unions formed by civil servants and a separate law in the form of an act would be drafted to regulate unions of other types of state officials, according to the prime minister.
When asked if he was worried such unions would boost permanent officials’ bargaining power against ruling politicians, Abhisit smilingly responded: “It is their right.” When asked to comment on the possibility of civil servants pressuring their politician bosses, the premier said it would be dealt on a case-by-case basis.
But at this stage, the OCSC has to guarantee the bureaucrats’ Constitutional rights and liberty
The Constitution’s Article 64 states: “A person shall enjoy the liberty to unite and form an association, a union, a league, a cooperative, a farmers’ group, a private organisation, a private development organisation or any other group. Government and state officials shall have the liberty to assemble like other people provided their assembly does not affect the efficiency of public administration and the continuity of the provision of public services, as provided by law.”
Jessada Prakobsap, an OCSC adviser on the bureaucratic system, said the proposed royal decree was to protect the constitutional right of civil servants. He said the draft law was based on existing laws regarding state enterprise labour unions, the establishment of societies and the Labour Act.
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