This profile was prepared when Somboon Srikhamdokkae was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Somboon Srikhamdokkhae is the first person in Thailand to bring the issue of occupational health and safety to public attention by coordinating the efforts of a broad coalition of people who have experienced work-related illnesses and injuries. Her organization is positioned outside of but parallel the trade union movement in Thailand, so its membership cuts across different industries. No such organization existed in Thailand prior to Somboon's work. She is building a movement in Thailand whose moment has arrived.Somboon's work functions entirely through the immense personal efforts of a base of volunteer members, now 1000 strong, who offer stricken workers aid in the form of financial assistance, moral support and legal advice. This is the first time workers have had such an organization to turn to, and they are now becoming more aware of their rights as workers. One of the reasons that Somboon's work is so effective is that the volunteers are personally affected by work-related illnesses and have a vested interest in making their voices heard.