IUF logo; clicking here returns you to the home page.
Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Tsunami Disaster Update: Thailand, January 2 Report From IUF Representative in Phuket and Khao Lak

Posted to the IUF website 02-Jan-2005

Share this article.

IUF representative Gerard Greenfield has spent the past two days in Phuket and Khao Lak, Thailand.

Khao Lak

There were no trade unions at any of the Khao Lak resort hotels. Nonetheless Gerard Greenfield will continue to attempt to meet up with workers from the devastated Sofitel resort hotel (Accor) and other hotels this evening (Sunday) and tomorrow.

In the meantime Gerard spent today helping to move bodies from the improvised morgue at the local temple in Khao Lak to forensic centres (a further thousand bodies were brought in today). He will be helping forensic dental teams tomorrow morning prior to visiting the devastated resort hotels in Khao Lak and trying to contact workers from those hotels.


The hotel workers union federation's membership is mainly in a number of five-star resort hotels. In those hotels the federation's latest information is that two workers were killed.

Three of the most damaged hotels where they have members are beachside properties. These are 250 members at The Holiday Inn (Patong beach), 550 members at The Meridien (Karon Noi beach) and 150 members at Club Med (Kata beach).

All three hotels were seriously damaged. However initial estimates are that they may be open again in about one month. Firm re-opening dates will be confirmed at future meetings with those hotels.

In all three cases the hotels have been in discussions with the union federation. Non-essential workers who are mainly from other areas in Thailand have been sent home initially on 15 days paid leave. Workers essential to the restoration and clean up are working. The union says that all three hotels are acting correctly and in good faith and the federation is pleased with the interim agreements they have reached dealing with the crisis.

In all three hotels on-site union offices were destroyed. These were all facilities negotiated from the hotels and therefore restoration of them will be held the hotels' responsibilities and will be subject of negotiations between the union and the hotels.

The IUF has at present no report of what is happening at non-union resort hotels or smaller hotels in Phuket.

The union's main concern regarding the future of the industry in Phuket is for smaller local hotels where restoration and rebuilding funds are unlikely to be available to the degree they will be in the case of international chains. The union has very few members in such small hotels and so has little concrete news from them.

The hotel workers' federation would support the holding of a trade union conference in the region to be convened at an appropriate time to assess the damage to the tourism industry. The conference would seek to develop a union strategy to confront the challenges the industry faces there in the coming months and years and limit the economic devastation that tourism workers and their families might be facing beyond the tragic humanitarian disaster the tsunamis have already produced.

Assessment of Humanitarian Needs in Phuket and Surrounding Coastal Areas

Greenfield met with both the Thai and International Red Cross representatives in Phuket. Their assessment is that they already have enough material, funds and even blood to deal with the situation. Their problem is now essentially access to more remote communities as a result of damaged and congested distribution networks (roads. bridges, jetties etc).