Thai Labour Museum
The Thai Labour Museum - A History of Strife, Sweat and Toil
By Eric Lim
The Thai Labour Museum is housed in a modest single story red building by the railway line near the Makkasan railway station. The building used to be the railway police station, then the railway labour union office, before being converted to a museum on 17 October 1993.
The monument outside the Thai Labour Museum signifying the "Dignity of Labour" shows a man and a woman pushing a huge wheel, the wheel of history.
The museum captures the 300-year history of the Thai labour movement from the days of slavery to the present, tracing the evolution of the Thai labour.
Latest News - Thai Labour Museum faces demolition
On 18 November 2005, the State Railway of Thailand announced plans to repossess land currently occupied by the museum to build a transport complex linking the city to the new Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
If this goes through, the old building in Makkasan would be demolished. The Labour Museum Committee is petitioning Parliament to allow the museum to stay put. We hope that their efforts will be successful.
The journey in the Thai Labour Museum starts with the period of slavery. Since the 1700s slaves and commoners or Phrai worked without wages. The Phrai were tattooed with their names of the area of abode and their masters.
The advent of paid labour
The Bowing Treaty in 1855 in the reign of King Rama IV opened up trade and pressure for reform. Increased labour demand was met by the influx of Chinese immigrants. This was the advent of paid labour though conditions were abysmal.