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Staff unions president, Wichiem Tannumas, at Laguna on Friday evening

Sunday Update: Talks 'Bring End' to Laguna Protest

Friday, February 6, 2009
Hopes for Laguna to 'fully reopen' Sunday: Look for More Updates


IT WAS agreed at talks late on Saturday that Laguna Phuket would be allowed to reopen from 2am on Sunday, Phuketwan has learned.

The reopening of roads actually took place around midnight.

Protesters blocked all roads into the six-resort complex after a dispute over pay and bonuses spread onto the roads about 1pm on Thursday.

The arrangement for the protesters to cease their action was reached after talks between the unions, the Governor, Dr Preecha Ruangjan, Phuket Police Chief Major General Apirak Hongtong and Laguna Phuket management.

The agreement required no commitment from Laguna Phuket, Phuketwan was told. An official statement is expected on Sunday.

The protest left most of the resorts with far fewer staff than normal. One resort had begun to have incoming guests taken to accommodation outside Laguna Phuket.

The dispute is unprecedented and an indication of the difficulties being faced on all sides as the island enters a lengthy period of economic uncertainty, brought on by the world economic downturn.

With 3500 staff, Laguna Phuket is Phuket's largest private employer.

Earlier report:

THE President of the Laguna Phuket unions told Phuketwan this evening [Friday] that the protesters were prepared to continue their demonstration over pay and bonuses indefinitely.

Wichiem Tannumas, head of Laguna Phuket's eight union bodies, said that the protest ''has the full support of all 3500 staff, except for the management.''

Dwindling numbers of staff who are able to get to work mean that guests at the six resorts within the five-star and four-star precinct are going to be affected more and more as the holiday long weekend drags on.

Khun Wichiem's comments came after a day that saw talks aimed at resolving the dispute reach the Governor, Dr Preecha Ruangjan, at Provincial Hall.

However, no progress was made.

The disagreement is about money: Laguna Phuket has paid staff two weeks' bonus for 2008 while the union insists on a four-week bonus, plus a four percent pay rise.

The protest within Laguna this evening seemed good-natured and, with children and family present, a little like a picnic.

However, middle-management staff passing the picket line have felt they were being subjected to intimidation.

Staff buses are banned from Laguna Phuket so huge banks of motorcycles line the road in to the complex.

Tourists walking, jogging and riding motorcycles are allowed through, often with a jokey remark or two.

Two Laguna seung taeu buses blocked most of the main road this evening, near the tee-junction to Laguna Beach Resort.

Around a corner in Chern Talay, six large Laguna staff buses were parked, but going nowhere.

About 200 protesters, gathered in groups on picnic mats, welcomed Phuketwan's photographer with cheers and smiles. Children played in a grassed area nearby.

Khun Wichiem was happy to talk and said that all Laguna Phuket entrances were blocked and would remain blocked until the union terms are accepted.

Laguna Phuket is doing its best to help guests check in and check out from the airport.

As we looked on, a limousine pulled up in the main entrance road, carrying two visitors from Hong Kong.

Too weary to talk and wanting only their rooms as soon as possible, the couple removed their luggage from the trunk and set off towards the bus barriers.

Phuketwan has been told that while the Dusit Thani resort has an 80 percent occupancy rate at present, only 40 staff turned up for work today.

Others may feel intimidated, or have divided loyalties.

The prospect of a compromise being reached quickly seems strong.

The management is known to have thought for many weeks about presenting staff with a less-than-expected pay package.

Their concern is that the latter part of 2008 was well down on expectations and that 2009 is already proving too uncertain to put jobs at risk.

Payment of a full bonus and a wage rise probably makes job losses more likely. And that is virtually certain to bring the unions to the barricades once again.

Laguna Phuket is considered to be one of Phuket's quality employers, with excellent child-minding facilities and health care.

As Phuketwan departed, three men were hanging a large billboard sign promoting the Singha Thailand Open golf tournament, to be played at the Laguna course in early March.

Laguna Pay Protest: Earlier Report


Phuket Pay Protest Blocks Laguna Entrance
Management Statement Released
Staff at Laguna Phuket are taking part in what they call an ''assembly'' as part of a dispute over pay. Road access remains blocked, says Laguna.
Phuket Pay Protest Blocks Laguna Entrance

Phuket's Economy: Essential Reading


Phuket Airport Figures Chart 2009 Island Decline
Latest
Phuket passenger flight figures reflect the real scale of the island's downturn as calls come for realistic property prices and beach loungers come at a discount.
Phuket Airport Figures Chart 2009 Island Decline

Phuket Economic Outlook: No Reason to Smile Yet
Latest
Figures on real and projected occupancy rates through the high season on Phuket reflect predictions of a gloomy 2009. The good news for tourists: beaches will not be crowded.
Phuket Economic Outlook: No Reason to Smile Yet

Phuket Passenger Numbers Steady: 2009 Unclear
Phuket's passenger traffic through the island airport remained steady at 5.7 million in a year of ups and downs. As to the future, even the experts are not prepared to speculate.
Phuket Passenger Numbers Steady: 2009 Unclear

Phuket's Future Forecast: Darkness at Noon
Phuket has a reputation as a great holiday destination but an island economic guru is forecasting a high season downturn of up to 30 percent, plus years of pain. Resorts are ducking for cover.
Phuket's Future Forecast: Darkness At Noon

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Hang on, no way pleeease !!! Not again.

Posted by A Nonny Mouse 1 on February 6, 2009 21:19

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Phuketwan seems to have been fast and accurate in reporting this issue, just as it was during the airport blockades. Congratulations! The island is going to need accurate information and analysis in the tough times that lie ahead.

Posted by Angelfire on February 8, 2009 07:45


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