THAI staff members warned their online posts may be politicized

Thai Airways International CEO Sumeth Damrongchaitham has warned the company’s staff to exercise caution when posting text, pictures or video clips on social media in order to prevent the posts being used for political purposes, possibly affecting the national flag carrier’s image.

The warning from Mr. Sumeth, in the form of a video presentation, was in response to a picture posted on social media depicting Future Forward party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit and a number of the airline’s cabin crew on an unidentified THAI aircraft. The post attracted many comments from members of the public, as well as other THAI cabin crew members.

In the video clip, Mr. Sumeth said he felt uncomfortable with the online comments, several of which have painted the company in a negative light.

He reminded all staff that THAI is a state enterprise, is politically neutral and that staff represent the company when they are in uniform or wearing a company symbol. When posting anything on social media, even without an ulterior motive, he said the posts can be used in a way which may harm the company’s image.

The THAI CEO also reminded staff to do their jobs honestly, professionally and impartially.

THAI labour union president, Damrong Waikanee, responded by saying that the company’s staff have the right to take pictures with any individual and Mr. Sumeth’s warning is unfair and may be tantamount to a restriction of the basic rights of the staff.

Regarding the picture, depicting Thanathorn and THAI cabin crew, he said he didn’t find the picture improper, impolite or arousing, adding “For a staff member to take a picture with anybody has nothing to do with partiality or impartiality. What if they took a picture with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha?  Will that be proper or improper?” Damrong said.

He also pointed out that there is no company regulation forbidding its staff from taking pictures with anybody while they are on duty or wearing the company’s uniform.

He suggested the management focus on solving the company’s financial problems and on organizational reform and to allow the staff to have a role in solving the problems.

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