Rail union threatens long strike Workers say privatising SRT helps only big firms PENCHAN CHAROENSUTHIPAN AMORNRAT MAHITTHIROOK WICHIT CHANTANUSORNSI

The State Railway of Thailand Workers Union is pledging to continue its nationwide work stoppage until the government drops what it alleges is a plan to privatise the state enterprise.

Union leader Sawit Kaewwan, who is also the State Enterprise Labour Relations Confederation secretary-general, said the railway labour union was prepared to stage a drawn-out work stoppage of passenger and cargo services to protest against alleged government efforts to privatise the state railways under the guise of a rehabilitation plan.

Yesterday, 451 SRT staff took leave or downed tools, halting 146 trains running on interprovincial and local routes. Ninety-six were passenger trains and 50 cargo trains. More than 200,000 people across the country were affected by the stoppage.

Between 10% and 20% of staff are expected to take leave today.

The union has asked Transport Minister Sohpon Zarum, through SRT governor Yutthana Thapcharoen, to raise the issue at today’s cabinet meeting.

The union accused the SRT of having a plan for private investors to take over the state railways and raise fares which would hurt the public.

The government insists the latest plan is intended to restore the SRT to financial health, not privatise it.

The cabinet approved a plan on June 3 to restructure the SRT, which is buried under a mountain of debt. The plan calls for the setting up of two subsidiaries within 30 days of the cabinet approval. The SRT will hold 100% equity in the two companies.

Within 150 days, the SRT’s assets and liabilities and duties will be allotted to the two subsidiaries.

One would be tasked with providing train services and the other would be responsible for managing the state railways’ assets.

It is estimated the SRT would have accumulated about 11 billion baht in income within 10 ears of the plan being fully implemented.

The government would be responsible for investing in the building of railway infrastructure and the SRT and its subsidiaries would work together to manage and clear the losses.

It is expected there would be a doubling of rail services within six years of implementation, passenger transport would rise by 25% and cargo services would double.

Deputy Finance Minister Pradit Phataraprasit yesterday said the plan to rehabilitate and restructure the SRT was necessary to support the government’s 200 billion baht mass transit project.

He also said there were no plans for privatisation.

But Mr Sawit, the union leader, said the plan did not follow proper procedures and could affect train users.

He said it was clearly specified in the plan that passenger and cargo fares would increase by 10% next year and a further 10% every three years.

‘‘Railway staff will continue to oppose the privatisation of the SRT until the government reviews its decision,’’ Mr Sawit said.

The aim of the plan is not to restore the SRT to financial health but to benefit private businesses, he said.

privatise – to sell a business or industry that was owned and managed by the government so that it becomes a private business (the noun form is privatisation) การแปรรูปรัฐวิสาหกิจ
firm – a company บริษัท
pledge – to make a serious promise to do something สัญญา
allege – to say that something is true or that someone has done something wrong, even though this has not been proved กล่าวหา
state enterprise – a company or business owned and managed by the government รัฐวิสาหกิจ
confederation – a group of organisations that are united การรวมกลุ่มกัน สหภาพ สมาพันธ์
drawn-out – lasting for a long time ที่ยืดเยื้อ
cargo – things that are being sent by ship, plane, train or truck สินค้าที่บรรทุกและจัดส่งโดยเรือ เครื่องบินหรือรถไฟ
under the guise – looking like something else or pretending to be something else จุดมุ่งหมายที่ซ่อนเร้น
rehabilitation – making a system, building, etc., suitable for use again, i.e., bringing it back to a good condition การฟื้นฟูสภาพกิจการ
halt – to stop หยุด
take leave – to take time off from work หยุดพักงาน
raise the issue – to bring up a subject for discussion ยกขึ้นมาเป็นประเด็น
cabinet – the group of government ministers who make and approve government policy คณะรัฐมนตรี
fare – the money that you pay for a journey ค่าโดยสาร
restructure – to organise something such as a company in a different way so that it will operate better ปรับโครงสร้าง
debt – an amount of money that you owe หนี้
subsidiary – a company that is owned by a larger company บริษัทลูก
equity – the value of a company’s shares กรรมสิทธิ์หุ้นส่วนในบริษัทห้างร้าน
assets – things owned by a person, company etc., particularly money and property ทรัพย์สิน
liabilities – the amount of money that a company owes หนี้สิน
allot – to give someone part of an amount of something that is available, or to decide that something will be used for a specific purpose จัดสรรเงินทุน
task – to give someone a particular responsibility หน้าที่
accumulate – to get more and more of something over a period of time สั่งสมมานาน
implement – to make something such as an idea, plan, system or law start to work and be used นำ แผนหรือนโยบายมาปฏิบัติ
infrastructure – a set of systems within a place or organisation that affect how well it operates, e.g., the telephone and transport systems in a country or the system of train tracks that a railway uses สาธารณูปโภค
double – to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า
mass transit – involving the movement of large numbers of people, using buses, trains, etc. การขนส่งมวลชน
procedure – a way of doing something ขั้นตอนการดำเนินการ
specify – to explain something in an exact and detailed way ระบุ ชี้แจงรายละเอียด
restore – to cause a particular situation to exist again, especially a good one ฟื้นฟูสภาพ


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