Labor Disputes in Thailand

In the event of a labor dispute, both parties will try to settle the matter through mutual negotiation. If this fails, the Department of Labor Protection and Welfare officials will mediate the case.

Employees in Thailand can establish a union by forming 10 or more people with the same enterprise under their sponsorship. This is a right protected by law.


In addition to traditional litigation, arbitration can be a useful tool for resolving labor disputes in Thailand. Arbitration offers a faster, less formal process than conventional court proceedings and gives the parties more control over the outcome of their dispute.

Arbitration is a popular choice for businesses operating in Thailand due to its low cost and speedy resolution. In fact, many international business contracts include an arbitration clause to avoid a lengthy court battle. Arbitration is also a great option for companies that are unable to resolve their dispute through negotiation with the other party.

Arbitration in Thailand is governed by the Thai Arbitration Act B.E. 2545 (2002), which is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law of International Commercial Arbitration. Thailand is a signatory to the New York Convention and Geneva Protocol, which makes foreign arbitral awards enforceable in Thai courts. However, the law is not clear about whether the award can be challenged or overturned.


In Thailand, the judicial system can be used to resolve labor disputes. The country’s court system is divided into district courts, provincial courts, the Central Courts and the Supreme Court.

Before a case goes to trial, the court will identify the issues in the dispute and facilitate compromise between the parties. This process can take months.

Once the trial is over, the court will issue a judgment or order disposing of the case. The judge will consider the following factors:

In addition to this, if an employee has been unfairly dismissed, the court will award them compensation. This amount will be calculated by the court after considering the worker’s age, their career period and their salary. The court may also determine their health and financial situation. The employer will be ordered to pay the compensation within one year from the date of the trial. If the employer fails to pay, the worker can file a lawsuit with the court.


Trade unions are a key tool for preventing labour abuse, child labour and human trafficking. Research shows that industries with strong unions have lower levels of labour abuse. But in Thailand, where the majority of workers are migrant workers, many are legally barred from joining or leading unions.

Those who do join unions often face employer intimidation and suppression. At Yan Siam Transport, for example, management aggressively and relentlessly fought to destroy the Logistics Relations Workers’ Union (LRWU). They spied on employees in their homes; denied employees the right to work overtime; delayed paying wages; and discriminated against members by placing them at the end of the assignment queue for new routes.

In addition, tripartite labour courts are inefficient, and they often settle disputes without protecting workers’ rights. The court system also tends to prioritize the needs of employers, who are allowed to select assistant judges. These judges are typically pro-employer, and the selection process involves bribery.


As an alternative to conventional litigation, arbitration and conciliation can help resolve labor disputes. These methods are less adversarial and more efficient than a lengthy court process. However, they can still be challenging to navigate. In addition, the outcome of a case can be unpredictable and costly.

The court consists of a judge and other legal staff. The court’s jurisdiction covers the entire country and focuses on employment-related cases. These include labor protection, unfair labor practices and discrimination, and relations, as well as appeals on decisions by labor officials or the Minister concerning wrongful acts in labor disputes or performance.

Prior to mediation, all participants should carefully consider their perspectives and concerns about the case. They should also identify factors beyond their control that contributed to the dispute’s outcome. Moreover, they should not come to the mediation with predetermined “bottom lines.” This will help them remain flexible in the mediation and open to new possibilities for resolution.

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