If you’re flying in or out of Bangkok’s Survarnabhumi Airport on Thai Airways in the next few days, you may find you are delayed. Thai Airways ground staff are on strike and it’s causing flight delays both in and out of Thailand’s main airport. It looks like the ground crew strike may go on for several days longer as they are demanding higher bonuses and higher pay raises, something management at Thai Airways say they are not willing to give.
According to ground staff that work for Thailand’s national carrier, a bonus of an extra one-month salary and a 4 percent pay increase isn’t enough. They are demanding a 2-month bonus and an at least 7.5 percent pay raise, both of which seem to be seeing little support from most average Thais. After all, ground staff aren’t saying they’re not making enough money, only that Thai Airways made large profits in 2012 and so they want some of it. Greed seems to be at issue here.
Most normal working-class Thais rarely if ever see a one-month end of year bonus and a 4 percent pay raise isn’t the norm either. So, when they hear Thai ground staff asking for two months’ extra salary plus an almost 8 percent pay raise, almost all the Thais I’ve spoken to say they just don’t understand.
Plus, most of my Thai friends won’t fly Thai Airways anyway. They say they are too expensive (they’re usually far higher than most of their competitors), the food is awful and the staff on board are rude. So no, no sympathy here.
As for Thai Airways, while it may have made a large amount of money last year, according to Thai president Sorajak Kasemsuvan at least 1 billion baht of it is already earmarked for staff bonuses and pay raises. Two billion baht or more simply isn’t feasible he says.
Delays meanwhile are occurring on not only flight time but also at the baggage handling end at Suvarnabhumi Airport as there are currently only contract ground staff handling bags. Thai Airways says you can probably expect at least a 15-30 minute delay on most Thai flights in and out of Suvarnabhumi Airport, but hopefully it shouldn’t be much longer than that.
I say take a book or grab an extra coffee at one of Suvarnabhumi’s excellent cafes.