A labour rights group has slammed Triumph International, one of the world's largest brands of intimate apparel, after it sacked a union president at one of its factories in Thailand for wearing a T-shirt that insulted the Thai monarchy.

The Clean Clothes Campaign says the action "inherently raises questions about the company's motives" and is calling on the underwear company to reinstate its employee.

According to the workers' organisation, Triumph's Body Fashion (Thailand) Ltd (BFT) subsidiary dismissed union president Jitra Kotshadej, the chairperson of its union in Thailand , on 30 July.

She wasn't wearing the T-shirt at work, and it wasn't the colour or the design of the T-shirt that caused offence. It was the message that caused the problem: 'Those who do not stand are not criminals. Thinking differently is not a crime.'

The T-shirt refers to the abuse of 'lèse-majesté' legislation which protects the dignity of the Thai monarchy.

Insulting the monarchy is a crime in Thailand and an act deeply resented by a considerable part of Thai society. 

Ms Kotshadej was participating in a late night TV debate on women's reproductive rights when she wore the T-shirt.
 
"Dismissing her for a wearing a T-shirt that supports freedom of expression is simply
outrageous," said Tessel Pauli, urgent appeals coordinator for the Clean Clothes Campaign.
2,000 of her co-workers also walked out of the factory in a show of solidarity, demanding the reinstatement of their union president.

The Clean Clothes Campaign is criticising Triumph for denying Ms Kotshadej the basic human right of freedom of expression.

However, Triumph International told just-style her actions "caused significant damage to the company," and says it is in talks to end the workers' strike.

It also said BFT has acted in full compliance with Thai labour law and would welcome back all striking employees without any disciplinary action.