Employment head transferred; labour minister expected to quit

Waranont Peetiwan was transferred from his position as director-general of the Employment Department on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s order on Wednesday to transfer the director-general of the Employment Department was followed by the resignation of the vice minister of labour. The labour minister was also expected to resign.

Gen Prayut exercised his power as the chief of the National Council for Peace and Order to transfer Waranont Peetiwan from the post of the Employment Department director-general to that of a deputy permanent secretary for labour.

The change – ordered with the NCPO’s power under Section 44 of the interim charter – took immediate effect. The order mentioned only that the change was intended to “improve efficiency” at the Labour Ministry.

Under the same order, Mr Waranont was succeeded by Anurak Tosarat, the current deputy permanent secretary for labour.

Mr Waranont told reporters that he did not know the exact reason for his transfer. He assumed it might relate to the nationality verification of migrant workers. He said he had done his best and would follow the order.

The nationality verification programme was ongoing, he said, as the government approved the registration of illegal migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos while postponing until next year the imposition of a new law’s harsh punishment on the illegal employment of migrant workers.

Later on Wednesday, Gen Charoen Nopsuwan, vice minister of labour, tendered his resignation to the prime minister with immediate effect. It was rumoured that Labour Minister Sirichai Distakul also planned to resign. Media reported that the two were close, characterising Gen Charoen as Gen Sirichai’s right-hand man.

Assistants to both men were seen moving their personal belongings out of the Labour Ministry.

Gen Sirichai met the prime minister for about ten minutes at Government House. Later, Gen Prayut said he had not seen a resignation letter.

Sources said the prime minister had been upset with the work of Gen Sirichai at the Labour Ministry, and there were reports that the prime minister wanted to replace him. Gen Sirichai is a former permanent secretary for defence and is close to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon.

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