Workers threaten strike to shut down BTS over unpaid debt

BTS Skytrain file photo. Photo: Markus Winkler
BTS Skytrain file photo. Photo: Markus Winkler

Employees of the BTS Skytrain threatened to paralyze the capital’s rail service by going on strike if the national government does not intervene and pay its debts.

The Bangkok Mass Transit system staff gathered this morning at the Government House to call on the prime minister to pay THB50 billion (US$1.5 billion) in debt owed to the system’s operator by City Hall.

The employees said that if the government doesn’t pay up in seven days, they would consider shutting down the system by stopping work.

They said that they were not acting on behalf of company management but were motivated by fear for its future should the government not pay.

At issue in the dispute is money owed not by the national government but by City Hall, which owns the system and contracts the company to operate it.

The debt stems from the three-year-old owes to the company over operation of the second Green Line extension. Fares have not been collected on either extension due to legal disputes.

Interest has added another THB10 billion or so to the original debt of roughly THB40 billion.

Bangkok Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt has promised the city will pay the debt, but said it must be done in accordance with legal procedures.

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