Donors aid Myan­mar work­ers in Thai­land

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

SOME 162 on-strike Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers in Thai­land’s Lop­buri prov­ince are now re­liant on do­na­tions in or­der to pur­chase food, as a stand-off with fac­tory man­age­ment over un­paid wages con­tin­ues. The em­ploy­ees of a ver­mi­celli noo­dle fac­tory in Ban Pon town stopped work last week, said the Thai­land-based Aid Al­liance Com­mit­tee (AAC).

Ko Shine Aung, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the work­ers, told The Myan­mar Times on Au­gust 21 that the mi­grants had worked at the fac­tory since May this year. All were on a two-year con­tract through Moon Beam over­seas em­ploy­ment agency. He said it is not the first time the fac­tory has failed to pay wages on time.

“We have stopped work­ing since Au­gust 17 be­cause we were un­paid. We have no food be­cause we have no money to buy it. The AAC and other or­gan­i­sa­tions have do­nated foods and wa­ter,” Ko Shine Aung said.

The fac­tory’s own­ers re­port­edly agreed in writ­ing to pay the work­ers’ salaries on Au­gust 13 and 28, af­ter dis­cus­sions be­tween the Myan­mar em­bassy, the em­ploy­ment agency and Thai labour of­fi­cials in July.

But pay­ments due on Au­gust 13 failed to even­tu­ate – and the work­ers say they plan to take ac­tion.

“We will sue the agency be­cause they sent us to this fac­tory ... The agency has failed to solve our griev­ances ef­fec­tively in the past. We often had to protest to get our un­paid wages,” said Ko Shine Aung.

The Moon Beam agency and Myan­mar em­bassy of­fi­cials have agreed to meet with fac­tory own­ers on Au­gust 24 to re­solve the dis­pute, said the AAC.

“The fac­tory owner told us that they can’t pay the wages to the work­ers be­cause he has no work or­ders,” AAC rep­re­sen­ta­tive U Khaing Gyi told The Myan­mar Times. “We couldn’t un­der­stand why the Myan­mar Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies Fed­er­a­tion asked the work­ers to keep wait­ing … be­cause work­ers have no money and no food,” he said.

The AAC and lo­cal civil so­ci­ety groups have been col­lect­ing pri­vate do­na­tions in or­der to sup­ply the work­ers with food and wa­ter.

Concerns over pos­si­ble breaches of a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween the Thai and Myan­mar gov­ern­ments has meant the work­ers have had to stay put while the dis­pute is be­ing re­solved, said U Khaing Gyi.

‘We have stopped work­ing ... be­cause we were un­paid. We have no food be­cause we have no money to buy it.’

Ko Shine Aung

Work­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive

“We have re­quested the work­ers not to go out, and to wait for [the re­sult of the Au­gust 24 meet­ing], be­cause if they go out on the street they will be il­le­gal ac­cord­ing to the MoU,” he said.

The Myan­mar Times at­tempted to con­tact Myan­mar em­bassy of­fi­cials in Thai­land, but was un­suc­cess­ful.

The Moon Beam agency’s Ma May Zu Hlaing said she would travel to Thai­land this week in sup­port of the work­ers.

Photo: Face­book/AAC

The Aid Al­liance Com­mit­tee do­nates food to work­ers in Thai­land.

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