Garment workers enjoy a long-overdue payday
Women who formerly worked at the now-defunct Unipolar factory in Yangon received pay packets yesterday for past-due salaries, plus compensation, after the Ministry of Labour and businessperson U Myint Than stepped in to fill the gap left after the Taiwane
ABANDONED garment workers of the defunct Unipolar factory got their money yesterday, thanks to the Ministry of Labour and white-knight businessperson U Myint Than.
U Win Shein, the Ministry of Labour’s director general of factories, confirmed to The Myanmar Times that they had paid the wages due the 180 workers since it closed when the Taiwanese owner fled last month.
The money came from U Myint Than, who had put up K56 million (US$47,000) for the contents of the factory building.
“We initially got K42 million at the auction,” said U Win Shein. “We needed more, because that was not enough to pay the workers from the proceeds of the sale. We asked the buyer to come up with it within three days and he did, so we could pay the workers immediately.”
The Unipolar factory was put up for auction on June 29 with a floor price set by the ministry at K56.7 million. It is located in Shwe Linn Ban industrial zone, Hlaing Tharyar township, Yangon.
“I got back more than K500,000 all told, including compensation. My monthly wage was only K135,000. Now I’ve got a new job in a factory, starting July 6,” said one former Unipolar worker, Ma Thin Wah Shwe, who had worked there since 2014.
The buyer, local businessperson U Myint Than, said on June 30 that not one of the 25 businesspeople listed to take part in the auction had put up money. Though his initial bid of K42 million was successful, he paid the full floor price at the request of the Labour Ministry because he sympathised with the workers’ plight.
Ministry of Labour officials named the errant owner as Patrick Yan, who fled the country last month without paying the wages for April and May. He had apparently run the factory since 2014 without the necessary documentation.
In 2014, the owners of the Myint April garment factory and Master Sport Shoe factory fled back to their home country of South Korea, also leaving workers unpaid. At that time, the Ministry of Labour paid the wages and compensation from the proceeds of the auction sale of the factories, said U Win Shein.
Former workers at the Unipolar garment factory receive overdue salary payments yesterday.