Six factory workers demand inspection of public-private contract
SIX factory workers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation’s Agricultural Machinery Factory are demanding an investigation into the ministry’s contract with a private company, which they say guarantees them a job with the private company for 30 years.
Young Investment Groups Industry (YIGI) company won a 30-year government contract in 2013 to build, operate and transfer an agriculture equipment factory for the ministry. As a part of the contract, 38 public workers were transferred to YIGI.
After three years of service, YIGI decided to send some of the workers back to the ministry, said labour leader U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo, who is also a member of the Yangon Regional Arbitration Committee and a central committee member of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM).
“We transferred to this company because of the written order,” he said at a press conference yesterday. “The ministry order has allowed us to work for the company for 30 years, according to the foreign services terms of laws.”
YIGI factory administration committee chair U Myint Thein told The Myanmar Times yesterday that while 32 of the 38 workers returned to the government department as ordered, six government workers, led by U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo, have been failing to honour the contract, which, he said, guaranteed only three years of work.
“We want to work,” said U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo. “We want jobs that have guarantees. They [ministry officials] arranged for us to work at the company for 30 years.”
He also demanded that the government take action against the ministry officials who issued the written order, and determine if that order is illegal.
They have asked the ministry for an explanation of the work order and have received no response, he said.
YIGI company officials said the Agriculture Machinery Department issued letters to the six workers many times, recalling them to their old jobs. Department officials met with those workers asking them to come back, YIGI officials said, but the six workers have disobeyed the rules and laws.
“They are not our workers,” said U Myint Thein, a YIGI company official. “They are government staff. We sent them back because their primary department called them back, according to the by-laws for government workers.”
According to the order, which was obtained by The Myanmar Times, the 38 government staff members were transferred to YIGI for anywhere from one to 30 years, depending on the foreign service terms in the by-laws for government staff.
YIGI also released 17 former government workers who, company officials say, had already resigned from the government department with a pension before the contract in 2013.
Those workers are disobeying factory rules and have failed to sign their new employment contracts, U Myint Thein said.
But the 17 workers say they did not take any compensation. They are cooperating with the other six dissatisfied workers in demanding the government solve their grievances and get their jobs back.
They plan to protest in cooperation with union workers if the ministry and company failed to solve their grievances, said U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo.
Workers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation’s Agricultural Machinery Factory hold a press conference in Yangon yesterday.