Work dispute ends in tragedy

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A HR manager has been murdered in Thailand after the escalation of a work dispute.

The Bangkok Post reported that police arrested a company driver from Danieli Far East Co, a steel processing firm located on the Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate in Rayong's Pluak Daeng district for the murder of Wirote Wichitwasuthep, 51, a HR manager at the same company.

After examining CCTV footage from the Danieli Far East Co, police found that the accused, Somyos Pathompaiboon, was the last person to visit Wichitwasuthep in his office before he disappeared.

Further police investigations uncovered a serious work conflict between the two, and Pathompaiboon was subsequently arrested.

Police said Pathompaiboon then confessed that he had been involved in a dispute with Wichitwasuthep about the HR manager’s plan to make him and some of his colleagues redundant.

After learning that the company had announced it would recruit a number of new employees, Pathompaiboon was incensed and rushed to the HR manager’s office, and the argument soon turned violent.

Pathompaiboon confessed to police that he first threw a bag at the deceased, before bashing Wichitwasuthep unconscious. After being driven away in the accused’s car, Wichitwasuthep woke up and was then fatally struck. The accused was later arrested at a nearby temple.

John McDonald from ProActive ReSolutions said that in his experience many of the worst workplace conflicts started out as small, resolvable disputes. By not addressing them in the first instance, many conflicts have escalated into industrial action, or even criminal acts.

“The big fault with the way we handle situations where things go wrong between people at work is we ask two questions: who did it and what do we have to do to them.”

“In a conflict I win, you lose – that’s how we resolve it. But conflicts are qualitatively very difficult experiences for us as human beings – they are more about how we feel than they are about what happened. If you try to isolate the facts it’s really like throwing fuel on the fire because we all see things situations very differently,” McDonald said.

It is for this reason that he advocates conferencing between a range of stakeholders a means of conflict resolution, as opposed to simply the individuals involved.

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