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Blockading Phuket golf caddies put their case to police and the local mayor

Phuket Caddies Blockade Popular Golf Course

Thursday, March 11, 2010
UPDATE

LOCH PALM caddies agreed late today to open the road but continue their protest at the entrance to the golf club. Management has agreed to reassign the people currently overseeing the caddies and accepted ''80 percent'' of their case. More talks are to take place tomorrow.

Original Report

ABOUT 260 golf caddies began a blockade of Lock Palm Golf Course today in a dispute over the sacking of their immediate boss and new rules governing their dress and behavior.

The caddies say they plan to continue the blockade until their ''caddy master'' is reinstated and conditions return to normal.

The dispute is made more complex because the caddies are all sub-contractors working on a daily rate, although some have been caddies at Loch Palm for decades and their daughters have followed in their footsteps.

Today players were allowed through this morning, then others were prevented from entering, along with everyone else, including Colonel Kaitong Jantongbai, the new chief of Tungtong police station.

A large billboard on the main road close to the course in central Phuket is currently advertising new positions for caddies.

Management were meeting inside the clubhouse this afternoon.

About 200 rounds are usually played every day at the course at this time of year.

One caddy said she was told to not come back to work for seven days when she tried to enjoy a quick lunch. Others said they were told to not come back to work for up to two weeks over what they see as petty issues.

Management of the caddies has largely been by memorandums, the caddies say, since long-term caddy master Wit Kinplam was removed from the job recently.

Caddies make up to 500 baht a day, with variations depending on the generosity of golfers' tips.

The caddies involved in the dispute said today they had all been donating a portion of their income to a central fund that usually went towards an annual party. But there had been no gathering for two years.

The caddies were making three demands:

- the return of caddy master Wit;

- removal of the people currently overseeing their activities from those roles;

- a declaration of how much money remains in the caddies' collective fund.

Colonel Kaitong said a representative of the owners, MBK, a prominent Bangkok retail business, flew to Phuket this morning.

This afternoon, the caddies were setting up tents with the intention of continuing their dispute.

Loch Palm is a favorite course among tourists and expat and Thai residents of Phuket.

The new companion course, Red Mountain, was the Phuketwan Innovation of the Year for 2008.
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Comments

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Thug rule as normal in Phuket

Posted by Peter j Notley on March 11, 2010 17:07

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Thugs? Well, female caddies and tuk-tuk drivers and property developers. Pick the odd one out in this lineup. What choice do they have? I guess the civil rights movement ''thugs'' who took to the streets and the eight-hour-day ''thugs'' and the college peace protester ''thugs'' are all the same to you. All thugs, eh? Even if they are protesting a just cause?

Posted by Angelfire on March 11, 2010 17:33

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Yep, just thuggery. They have clearly been inspired by the thuggish behaviour of almost every other group of people in Phuket: Laguna staff, taxi drivers, tuk tuk drivers, anti-Lotus people and now caddies.

And what is the "just" cause you are reffering to? Do you by any chance some inside information concerning the former caddy master that was fired? Removal of the people currently doing the former caddy masters job?

Again, can you please tell me what is "just" with demanding people to get fired?

Editor: The caddies have asked for the people currently posting memos telling them what to do to be reassigned. They have not asked for anyone to be fired. Judging by the billboards, the caddies are the ones likely to be fired.

Posted by christos on March 11, 2010 17:56

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I was making the point that some street protests are just. Others are not. It's foolish to assume every street protest is unjust.

Posted by Angelfire on March 11, 2010 18:07

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Well, they demand that the persons currently managing the caddies to be "removed". And what does that mean to you? That they will get a better paying job at the club?

And the caddy master probably got fired for some specific reason. What do you know editor? Or maybe they just wanted to introduce a more efficient less personal contacts based system?

Is it not the right of the golf course management to do that if they wish? Again, what do you or anybody else know?

At the end of the day they are not permanently hired staff, more like day laborers. Albeit well paid day workers compared to any one working at a construction site for example.

But that is not an illegal system in Thailand, so not much to complain about there, either.

Editor: The caddies want an individual to deal with, not memos on a wall. There are two sides to this issue. I hope both get a fair hearing.

Posted by christos on March 11, 2010 18:18

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Yeah I can see the comparison between legitimate protest and 'thug rule', Female caddies and tuk tuk drivers tarred with the same brush - get real.

As we have seen with road blockades in other parts of the island, civil disobedience is the only way ordinary people here can get their voice heard.

I am sorry if these 'thugs' interrupted your golf game Peter, hopefully you will tip your 'thug' generously next time she humps your golf bag around 18 holes in the blazing heat.

If the company had a decent redress program maybe this issue would have been resolved more amicably. Management by memo - it leaves something to be desired

Posted by Mister Ree on March 11, 2010 19:37

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Next memo to caddies; Your fired

Posted by Sean on March 11, 2010 20:16

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So, lets say that the caddy master did not do anything wrong at all. And that the managment just decided to change the system without any reason at all. (highly unlikely) So, then the caddies have the right to hijack the place, block roads and cause a disturbance and pain for other people working there? Who by the way are ordinary people too. And these people are not even employees of the golf course! Its just thuggery and annarchy, its illegal. Why support it? "We dont like memos, so we have the right to block roads"? Insane...

Editor: Surely sanity is listening to both sides of a two-sided argument before declaring one side are ''thugs.''
What we don't support is ill-considered decision-making.

Posted by christos on March 11, 2010 21:38

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Are you serious? Do you really think a change in managment style, (the memos) and the firing of a caddy master warrants blocking roads and causing financial pain to ones employer?

When the caddies themselves are not even employees in the real sense? Dont you see that a culture of anarchy is spreading amongst the people of Phuket? Whats next? Hijacking the airport because the Bhukit Cafeteria decides to close one of theis two outlets there?

The blocking of roads in uncivilised and criminal behaviour, and if all it takes is unhappiness with a new managment style for it to happen then what is Phuket coming to?

The caddies have CLEARLY been inspired by these sort of events and thought "if those and those people can do it so can we. The communists among you might think it is a first step to workers paradise, but to me it reeks of spoilt irresponsibility and immaturity.

Editor: It's difficult to judge without having been more closely involved, but in a democracy, any democracy, a public protest is always an option, although it should be a last resort. Blocking roads is certainly not recommended, but then this was a side road to the golf clubhouse, not the main thoroughfare, so it was not an imposition on innocent passers-by, only innocent golfers. The Governor has tried to encourage groups with grievances to contact his office rather than take to the streets. If there was a more formal mediation process, there may be less disruption. This kind of one-off protest, though, cannot really be compared with the thuggish and frequent use of a blockade as an industrial weapon. However, instant armchair judgements seldom glean the whole story.

Posted by christos on March 11, 2010 22:27

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Caddies in Thailand are treated as second class citizens, same as construction laborers. By rights they should be permanent employees, but in order to skip paying government regulation welfare and insurance benefits they are employed as "independent contractors". They have every right to complain.

Posted by Guenter Bellach on March 12, 2010 16:41

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Caddies at most courses have it tough, the lucky ones who manage a regular client can make a decent living if not they can spend days sitting in the caddy area without a customer with hopefully a meal provided by the club as their only compensation. This applies particularly during the low season.

While I disagree with blockades etc I think that some comments posted here are totally uninformed, these girls need to work and earn money, they don't strike for just any reason. Possibly if both sides of the story were made public, people would think differently.

Posted by tom on March 15, 2010 15:51


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