Protest­ing sock fac­tory work­ers fired

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

The DJY Knit­ting Myan­mar sock fac­tory ter­mi­nated some 280 work­ers af­ter they failed to re­port for work as they con­tin­ued to protest out­side the fac­tory.

THE sock fac­tory DJY Knit­ting Myan­mar is­sued an an­nounce­ment on Au­gust 23 stat­ing that they would not rein­te­grate 280 work­ers on strike as the lat­ter re­peat­edly failed to re­turn to work by the dead­line.

Over 200 fac­tory work­ers of DJY Knit­ting Myan­mar fac­tory of in­dus­trial zone 3 in Hlaing Thar­yar have been protest­ing in front of the fac­tory since Au­gust 7. They de­mand the re-hir­ing of their leader sacked by the fac­tory and the or­gan­is­ing of an in­de­pen­dent work­ers union, ac­cord­ing to pro­test­ers.

“We can’t ac­cept them should they want to get back to work be­cause they failed to re­turn be­fore the dead­line,” said a fac­tory of­fi­cial, who asked not to be named, to the me­dia on Au­gust 23.

The fac­tory of­fi­cial added that, the strik­ers failed to re­turn to work for nearly 12 days with­out leave re­quests. The fac­tory had given them a chance on four oc­ca­sions by ex­tend­ing the dead­line sev­eral times.

The fac­tory fired the worker’s leader who was or­gan­is­ing the trade union on Au­gust 7. Ac­cord­ing to our source, the fac­tory of­fered com­pen­sa­tions and acted legally be­cause the leader com­mit­ted sev­eral in­frac­tions: he al­legedly held a meet­ing with the other work­ers in order to cre­ate the labour union with­out prior no­tice; he missed work the fol­low­ing day; he en­ticed other work­ers to go on strike; and he con­tacted the hu­man re­sources de­part­ment ask­ing for paid leave for the work­ers.

“We have promised to the Myan­mar In­vest­ment Com­mis­sion (MIC) to obey the laws of the coun­try. We never vi­o­late laws be­cause it would af­fect busi­ness with our clients,” a fac­tory of­fi­cial said on Wed­nes­day.

Over 200 work­ers went on strike on Au­gust 7 and made 17 de­mands re­lat­ing to their labour rights. Ac­cord­ing to the fac­tory of­fi­cial, work­ers failed to re­turn to work even though they agreed to all 17 de­mands of the strik­ers. These de­mands were rat­i­fied by the sign­ing of a labour agree­ment con­tract in front of the town­ship labour ar­bi­tra­tion group of the Min­istry of Labour.

The strike has not ceased as pro­test­ers now de­mand for the re-hir­ing of their dis­missed leader, as he is a key per­son for the trade union.

“We just want to form a union. Ev­ery coun­try has labour unions. We are here to protest since they tried to break the trade union,” said one of the work­ers’ lead­ers, Phyo Ko Ko Aung, to the me­dia on Au­gust 22.

Strik­ers added that they are protest­ing peace­fully against the fac­tory and only have two fur­ther re­quests: to re-hire their leader and to be able to form an in­de­pen­dent trade union.

Pro­test­ers ad­dressed the re­gional ar­bi­tra­tion coun­cil to solve their dis­putes. “We will op­pose the fac­tory through the le­gal sys­tem since they are fight­ing us with laws. We only want to be al­lowed to form a trade union,” said protest leader Ko Soe Thura Ko, who was fired by the fac­tory, on Au­gust 23.

The DJY knit­ting Myan­mar Co Ltd opened in Hkaing Thar­yar two years ago. The fac­tory em­ploys close to 400 work­ers and over half of them are on strike. Those who re­fused to join the protest ar­gued that they must keep work­ing to earn a liv­ing. They added that they get un­so­licited pres­sure from the strik­ers when­ever they come to and go from the fac­tory.

Strik­ing work­ers sit out­side the DJY sock fac­tory. Photo: Zaw Zaw Htwe

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