‘Supply Chain Solutions' at All Costs: The Case of Linfox and the Transport Workers Union in Thailand

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: Booth 41
Oral Presentation
Piya PANGSAPA , Institute for Gender and Development Studies, The University of the West Indies , St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Linfox is Australia’s largest privately-owned logistics and supply chain company which provides transport and delivery services across the Asia Pacific region for the world’s biggest consumer goods companies and retailers. In Thailand, Linfox provides services for four distribution centers of Tesco Lotus (a joint venture between a Thai conglomerate and Tesco PLC, the world’s second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart). Work conditions have steadily deteriorated over the past ten years (serious injuries including deaths caused by stress, exhaustion and falling asleep at the wheel) and reached a breaking point in January 2013 – the same time as a nationwide minimum wage policy was put into effect on January 1st 2013 – a controversial policy that prompted many companies to increase working hours, reduce benefits, lay off workers and/or close down their factories. The Linfox truck drivers had no choice but to go on strike but their action only resulted in the dismissal of fifty-six union members and refusal from management to further negotiate with workers. This paper examines the 2013 dispute between management and 430 members of the Transport Workers Union who work as truck drivers for Linfox – a multinational transport company which first started its operations in Thailand in 1992. Based on interviews conducted in the field, this paper will provide an analysis of the struggles confronted by workers (whose several attempts at forming a labor union were shut down by management) with the aim of better understanding global corporate strategies and the challenges posed to worker solidarity. Since these are not new challenges, are there really opportunities then for new forms of resistance?