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Workers in Rangoon call off demonstration


Chiang Mai (Mizzima) - Workers of the Wong Hong Hung textile factory in Rangoon called off their demonstration following successful negotiations with company officials regarding wages and other demands.  

About 1,000 workers of the textile factory in Hlaing Tharyar Industrial zone on Thursday morning staged a demonstration, submitting a 12-point charter of demands including a pay-hike, better working ambience, and medical allowances.

The workers, however, dispersed at about 2 p.m. (local time) after successfully negotiating with company officials on their demands.

“The workers were given a raise of their day-allowances from Kyat 30 to 40, and transport fare of Kyat 100 from 80. They were able to negotiate regarding all their demands and called off the demonstration at about 2 p.m. (local time),” an official of the company told Mizzima.

The agreement includes a raise in the workers’ daily transport fare to 100 Kyat from Kyat 80. Despite the demonstration, the factory management agreed to pay the workers their allowances for Thursday, December 17, 2009.

According to eyewitnesses, authorities cleared the perimeter of the factory and tightened security, in order to stop the wave of protests. The protestors were also met by Rangoon’s Deputy Commander Brig-Gen Kyaw Kyaw Tun, Deputy Labour Minister Brig-Gen Tin Tun Aung and Police Commander Myint Sein.

Reportedly, two leaders who spearheaded the demonstrations – Khin Thandar Oo and Wei Wei Lwin – fear reprisal by the authorities. On December 14, the workers submitted their demands and protested by not going to work.

While minor protests and demonstrations are not uncommon in factories and companies in Rangoon’s industrial zones, workers’ causes and demands rarely come to be known as the authorities tightly control the flow of information.

While most of the protest and demonstrations are related to workers’ wages, it is also the result of the global economic meltdown, according to Thandoke of the Thailand-based Burma Labor Solidarity Organisation (BSLO).

“Our country does not produce raw materials for the factories. For example, wool is imported from China or Thailand and they are processed in Burma for finished goods. Burma has a cheap labour force,” Thandoke said.

The factory, owned by a Malaysian entrepreneur Kung Ben Pho, exports its finished goods to Malaysia. The factory has 1700 women workers and over 50 male workers.

Last Updated ( Friday, 18 December 2009 12:22 )  

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