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For Immediate Release: 6 th April 2011

Rights Groups Call on Thai Government to Urgently Rethink Worker Safety, Conduct Investigations and Provide Effective Remedies As 16 Myanmar Migrants Die in Truck Tragedy

For further information on this statement, please contact:

*Mr. Chalee Loysong (President, Thai Labour Solidarity Committee [TLSC]): +66 890 309178 (Thai) *Mr. Andy Hall (Consultant, Human Rights and Development Foundation [HRDF]): +66 846 119209 (English/Thai) *Ms. Preeyaporn Khankamnerd (Coordinator, HRDF’s Migrant Justice Programme): +66 863 408390 (Thai/English)

At 7am on 4 th April 2011, a two-row seater bus carrying more than 70 migrants from Myanmar was hit by a 10-wheeler truck in the no parking zone central lanes of a major highway leading into Bangkok in Samut Sakorn Province in Central Thailand. 16 workers were killed in this tragedy and more than 50 were treated for their injuries in hospital.

Every morning and evening, two-row seater buses overflowing with Myanmar migrants regularly are seen on the streets of Samut Sakorn. These buses take workers to work and bring them back home again. Some of these buses are provided free of charge by factories as part of welfare packages. Many other factories however deduct workers’ salaries for such transportation. As there are not enough buses provided by factories, each bus generally carries over 60 workers. This is greatly in excess of legal limits laid down by the Thai Government (TG) and in case of an accident greatly raises the risks of large losses of life. No matter how crowded a bus is, Myanmar migrants must try to get into it to get to work on time because their already meager salaries will be deducted further if they are late

arriving at their workplaces. With migrants’ low incomes other means of transportation which cost more are unaffordable to them. In addition, the TG has a policy that, given apparent national security concerns, migrant workers cannot apply for personal driving licenses also.

The disturbing and avoidable loss of life in Monday’s incident and in other bus-related incidents occurring frequently across Thailand is partly attributed to lack of strict law enforcement. According to Thai regulations, the bus involved in Monday’s accident was of 24 seats but it carried over 70 passengers. It was also picking up workers when it was hit at a no parking zone on the central lanes of a main highway heading into Bangkok. The Land Transportation Act prescribes however that “For the regular route or non-regular route transportation between provinces or between Thailand and foreign countries, the licensed driver of a vehicle is prohibited to load more passengers than the seats specified in the permit.

Given the frequent yet avoidable loss of lives of innocent workers across Thailand in vehicle accidents, and particularly in light of this recent tragedy, the organizations listed below with deep regret and concern request urgently that:

The TG and relevant provincial agencies strictly ensure enforcement of bus safety laws in Thailand, specifically relating to numbers of passengers permitted for each vehicle and to ensure that picking up and dropping off of workers and members of the public is conducted in a way to ensure public

safety and to prevent repetition of the 4 th April 2011 tragedy. The Governor of Samut Sakhon Province and relevant agencies promptly conduct a fact-finding investigation on the causes of Monday’s tragedy and provide appropriate remedies for the injured, deceased and dependents of the deceased. Migrant workers in Thailand generally encounter severe obstacles in receiving remedies for such incidents so extra effort should be applied in this case by the TG to ensure their access to justice. Myanmar’s Embassy in Thailand provide consular assistance to its citizens and their families who were injured or killed in this

tragedy. Relevant TG agencies ensure future regulation of a standard means of providing welfare provisions for all workers, Thai and migrant, particularly relating to travelling to and from workplaces.


Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) Work and Environment Related Patient's Network of Thailand (WEPT) Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF) Raks Thai Foundation Labour Rights Promotion Network Foundation (LPN) Foundation for AIDS Rights (FAR) Thai Labour Campaign

Cross Ethnic Integration In Andama Project Sathirakoses - Nagapradipa Foundation

The Mirror Foundation