Monday, 18 November 2019

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Rangoon factory workers’ protest spreads

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – A four-day workers’ strike at the Tai Yi footwear factory in an industrial zone in Rangoon Region on Thursday spread to a nearby factory.

About 2,000 workers from three factories in the Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone went on strike in February 2010, demanding higher wages. Photo: MizzimaMore than 1,000 workers at the New Way footwear factory, located nearby, went on strike on Thursday, in the same Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone.  In both strikes, workers are seeking higher wages and other rights.

More than 1,800 workers from the Tai Yi factory began their strike on Monday.

“The New Way factory started their protest today [Thursday],” said lawyer Pho Phyu, who works on labour related issues. “The factory officials came and negotiated with the workers but have not yet resolve the problem. Tai Yi is continuing its protest, and they will stage a strike tomorrow too. A lot of workers joined the protest.”

The workers at the New Way factory have also submitted a range of issues, including more pay, overtime pay, a bonus for no absences, and the granting of sick leave. Currently, workers are penalized 4,000 kyat (US$ 5) per day for sick leave.

Officials at the Tai Yi factory have issued a notice increasing basic pay by 10 kyat per hour and overtime pay by 21 kyat per hour. Those who accept the offer can report for work on Saturday. Those who do not accept the offer will lose their jobs, the notice said.

The previous pay rate at the Tai Yi factory was 75 kyat per hour for basic pay, 162 kyat per hour for overtime pay, and an absentee penalty deduction of 4,000 kyat per day.

A Tai Yi factory official said, “We have increased the pay as much as we can. Those who cannot accept our offer can withdraw their wages due. If we have to accept their demand, the net pay increase will be about 40,000 (US$ 50) per head. We cannot give in to their demand to pay these rates for over 2,000 workers.”

The workers have asked for a basic pay of 50,000 kyat (US$ 62) a month, no absentee penalty, no deduction for accidental damage of footwear products, adequate drinking water, freedom to go to the toilet facilities, and work leave when they have family issues.

Worker Win Mar at the Tai Yi factory said, “Our wages cannot meet our ends even though I have free accommodation at my auntie’s house. We have to spend for conveyance too. Most of the workers come from rural areas, and they live in rented rooms. For these workers, they are in debt because their wages don’t cover their minimum expenses.”

The Tai Yi factory is owned by Chinese nationals and has faced labour strikes for three years in a row since 2010, Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone committee chairman Myat Thin Aung told Mizzima.

A labour worker, Suu Suu New, and lawyer Pho Phyu will meet and negotiate with factory officials and officials from the labour department on Friday. The workers said they would take the issue to court if an agreement cannot be reached with factory officials.

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