Labour groups oppose minister as SSO chair

Labour and employer representatives have slammed a proposal which seeks to make the labour minister the Social Security Office's (SSO) board chairman.

Worapong Rawirat, an employers' representative on the SSO board, yesterday said the labour minister, who is a political office holder, could compromise the SSO's independence.

"The Social Security Fund [SSF] is a huge source of funds for over 10 million people. It needs transparency and independence. It should be supervised by an independent public agency," he said.

He voiced his concern after Pheu Thai MPs who sit on a parliamentary committee vetting draft amendments to the Social Security Act proposed making the labour minister the SSO board chairman.

The SSO's board is currently chaired by the labour permanent secretary.

Mr Worapong said the proposal needs to be reviewed to make sure the SSF is free from political interference.

He said he is inviting representatives from 10 employers' organisations to discuss the matter this week.

Yongyuth Mentrapao, an employees' representative, said he and the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee have lodged a petition against the amendment with Anusorn Kraiwatnusormn, deputy chairman of the panel vetting the amendments.

"We want the SSO to be transparent and accountable, not under a politician," he said.

The proposal is another blow for labour activists whose amendment draft, proposed by Thai Labour Solidarity Committee head Wilaiwan sae Tia, was rejected by the House of Representatives.

The draft proposed to make the SSO an independent organisation and called for a significant shake-up in the governance of the social security system.

Surapong Kongjanthuek, of the Lawyers Council of Thailand, said the proposal goes against the tripartite committee principle comprising the state, workers and employers. He said the proposal reflects "centralisation of power" and would expose the SSO to political interference.

About the author

Writer: Penchan Charoensuthipan
Position: Reporter