Monday, 18 November 2019

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Lion City strikers reach agreement with employers

New Delhi (Mizzima) – After reaching an agreement with their employers today, striking workers from the South Korean owned Lion City garment factory ended their illegal strike demanding better wages and working conditions.  The poorly paid sweatshop workers staged a sit-in strike for three consecutive days and importantly only ended their strike when their employers agreed to some of their key demands.

According to a local Insein resident with detailed knowledge of the strike, under the new agreement the workers settled for "a wage hike of Ks. 5,000 instead of the Ks. 10,000 the workers demanded. The normal business hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public holidays will be their holidays and every Sunday too. And a half work day on Saturdays and they will get overtime on that day for work done after normal business hours."

According to the workers, they regularly received only Ks. 20,000 on pay day although the agreed minimum payment was Ks. 29,000 for normal contract work.  Prior to the strike factory workers had been tight lipped on the working conditions in this 5-year old factory. However on February 16 some of the more radical workers started the sit-in strike. When key workers failed to show up for shifts the factory was forced to halt.

Over 200 people work in the Lion City garment factory which is also a subsidiary of the Eagle garment factory in Htauk Kyant.

Divisional authorities closely monitored the strike and riot police were kept on stand-by but the strike ended peacefully without any violence. The strike coincided with a fact finding trip to Burma by UN Rights envoy Tomas Ohe Quintana.

Since early January a series of strikes have taken place in about 10 factories in Rangoon with workers demanding higher wages and better working conditions. The military regime in Burma is very sensitive about labour unrest and all independent labour unions have been banned in Burma for decades.  All strikes and related worker led protests are illegal.  In the past labour unrest was crushed by military authorities using violent means.

A joint statement issued by a clandestine monk and student organizations which are influential among Burmese youth, says these labour strikes are not merely labour issue but they also reflect the daily livelihood and food security of general people in the whole country and they expressed their support of thes strikes.

Their statement says, ‘The workers in Insein and Hlaing Thar Yar represent and reflect the poverty of most of the common people including workers, peasants, ordinary government employees, junior officers and rank and file soldiers, police personnel etc’. This statement was jointly issued by All Burma Monks Union, 88-Generation Students and the All Burma Federation of Students Union.


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