Airport workers in compensation claim over lost lunch breaks

THAILAND: 200 airport security workers in Thailand have filed a complaint against their employer for denying them lunch and toilet breaks, since they started working in May 2020.

The workers are demanding a compensation of about USD 60,000 from AOT Aviation Security (AOT AVSEC), a joint venture that includies the country's state-run airports operator.

Apart from being denied lunch breaks, the workers were also not allowed to take toilet breaks. Some female staff had to use men's toilets because the women's restrooms were further away, one anonymous complainant said.

The workers say the situation got worse in 2020 when the company stopped hiring new staff. Ampai Wivatthanasathapat, President of the Airport Workers’ Union, said the case reflected a slide in working conditions in Thailand since the COVID-19 crisis struck in early 2020.

Labour rights activists globally have voiced concerns about companies capitalizing on the pandemic, and cutting costs by coercing workers to accept reduced terms and conditions.

"There has been a massive increase in labor rights violations across the country, with many employers using COVID-19 as an excuse to lay off workers without severance pay," Wivatthanasathapat told Thomson Reuters.

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