A new UnionAID project in Thailand aims to ensure the low prices of plasterboard are not at the expense of exploitation of workers in the factories in-country.
As the cost of plasterboard (known as GIB) skyrocketed in mid-2022, the New Zealand Government set up a Taskforce with the aim to increase supply. Its immediate work focused on getting approval for competing products, including Thai-manufactured “Elephant Board”.
Working with FIRST Union and the Thai “Workers Union”, UnionAID is funding an organising project in two main factories that manufacture plasterboard in Saraburi Province, north of Bangkok.
After undertaking mapping work, organisers travelled to workers’ communities to survey living conditions and establish key contacts. As a result of these contacts, one of the union’s key organisers has been able to find work at the company, documenting working conditions.
This work has identified low wages (NZ $15.75) per day, excessive compulsory overtime, and serious health and safety concerns.
Our project to organisers are continuing to document conditions and have discussions with workers about collective action. At the same time, FIRST Union is preparing to reach out to a number of parties, including the Government Taskforce, NZ buyers, as well as German unions with common interests, to engage the company on a social dialogue model.