New reader comment posted below. Add yours!
EXCESSIVE hours often produce disputes in workplaces, on Phuket and elsewhere.
Sometimes, workers in offices will be expected to clock up limitless unpaid overtime to finish a particular assignment or to meet a regular production schedule.
Selfish bosses will sometimes keep the number of staff to a minimum, yet still expect loyalty and a production schedule that meets their needs.
The moral obligation to give their workers a fair deal and a reasonable opportunity to spend time with their family is of no importance to bosses like these.
The six-day working week is still legal in Thailand. Hours, however, are limited.
Some companies will work nine-hour days, five days a week, while others will work eight-hour days, six days a week.
The Phuket Department of Labor Protection and Welfare enforces the law when it comes to workplace breaches.
There are more than 4000 businesses on Phuket, says Anuchon Varinsathien, chief of the department.
He and his staff of nine have checked more than 513 businesses between October 2007 and June 2008.
The companies collectively had a total of 30,242 staff. The departments checks a minimum of 600 compaines each year.
Complaints by workers mostly concerned unpaid overtime or an excessive number of working days, sometimes seven days a week.
Between October and June, 420 people lodged complaints directly with the Department of Labor Protection and Welfare.
Some of these involved foreigner workers who claimed they were not paid their salaries, commission on property sales, or worked excessive overtime.
The department usually assesses the case and advises people how best to pursue justice.
In many cases, especially in restaurants, the staff accepted bad conditions because they needed the wages.
In the construction business or other dangerous occupations, working hours are limited to 45 hours a week. Office workers are expected to complete a 48-hour working week.
General managers were often expected to not keep count of hours worked.
But, Khun Anuchon said, another word usually applied in cases where working hours were excessive. The word is ''recompense.''
This takes into account some kind of compensation for excessive overtime.
It could take the form of extra time off, the provision of a motorcar or motorcycle, payment for telephone or petrol, meal discounts, paid holidays, or travel expenses.
Khun Anuchon usually allows 60 days to negotiate a settlement between an unhappy worker and his or her boss.
If the dispute continues, then the worker is usually advised on what course of action to take.
Anyone who thinks they have been sacked unfairly can find a sympathetic ear at the department office, near the Employment Department in Saphan Hin.
Khun Anuchon said his staff spoke English and were happy to help foreigners who felt they were being cheated.
Contact the Provincial Office of Labor Protection and Welfare on 076 211955.