The strike at Suvarnabhumi Airport is apparently over – good news for me, since I due to be there in a couple of hours. Apparently some 300 workers who were responsible for providing baggage and x-ray machine services were striking to receive the 3,000 baht per person bonus they were promised for working without time off throughout December and January. The bonus has not been paid but executives have promised to take their requests into consideration – so that perhaps means that further industrial action is possible.
Industrial action is of course an important right for workers and it is likely to be a significant feature of the rest of the year, since there will surely be many more job losses and company closures (Olarn Chaiparavart, once of this parish of course, is talking about a contraction of the economy by as much as 4%) and not every company is likely to pay strict attention to its obligations re compensation payments and the ethical shedding of jobs. Given the power that the military now holds in society, together with the expansion of the sinister Internal Security measures, it is likely that any physical confrontation featuring striking workers runs the risk of meeting deadly force – this would be the expression of obvious, explicit violence by the state. Slavoj Zizek, in his new book Violence, draws distinctions between this explicit expression of violence and the implicit, non-expressed forms of violence used by state agencies to control an unwilling (section of the) population – some readers might recall Arthur Scargill justifying the actions of striking miners using the same terms.
Here, the ICT is continuing with policies which use the implicit violence approach: it is claimed that more than 50,000 websites are now being blocked in Thailand – supposedly for containing pornography, pro-terrorist articles or political dissidence in certain particular ways. The fact that I am wary of even mentioning the reasons why this website ban exists and will not try to find out for myself whether certain sites are being blocked or not indicates the efficacy of this policy.