Gar­ment fac­tory owner re­fuses to re­hire strik­ing work­ers

The Myanmar Times - - News -

A JA­PANESE-OWNED gar­ment fac­tory is re­fus­ing to re­hire work­ers strik­ing over new daily pro­duc­tion re­quire­ments, which they said were nearly im­pos­si­ble to meet.

The work­ers at Sakura fac­tory, lo­cated in Hlaing Thar­yar town­ship’s in­dus­trial zone 3, have been protest­ing their quo­tas since July 29.

At the end of Au­gust, the Yan­gon Re­gion Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil or­dered the fac­tory to re­hire 316 strik­ing work­ers with com­pen­sa­tion for time spent protest­ing. In­stead of fol­low­ing the rul­ing the fac­tory own­ers have de­cided to ap­peal the de­ci­sion to a higher coun­cil, work­ers told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day.

Union leader Ma Cho Cho Latt, who has spent six years at the fac­tory, told The Myan­mar Times that their cloth­ing pro­duc­tion sec­tion learned, in the last week of July, it would have to pro­duce 135 items each day with only 32 work­ers start­ing on Au­gust 1.

“The fac­tory forced us to pro­duce more cloth­ing,” said Ma San San Win, a worker with 10 years of ser­vice at Sakura. “Fac­tory of­fi­cials added about 10 more items of cloth­ing to the pri­mary tar­get. It is im­pos­si­ble to fin­ish be­cause we do not have enough work­ers.”

On July 29, more than 300 work­ers protested in the fac­tory’s canteen. On Au­gust 22, they set up strik­ing camps, block­ing the en­trance to the fac­tory.

The town­ship Labour Re­la­tion Depart­ment hosted four ne­go­ti­a­tion ses­sions but a set­tle­ment was never reached, so the dis­pute went to the Yan­gon Re­gion Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil. In ad­di­tion to or­der­ing the re­hir­ing, the coun­cil also ve­toed the in­creased cloth­ing pro­duc­tion quota.

The Myan­mar Times went to the fac­tory in an at­tempt to meet fac­tory of­fi­cials and also called its of­fice yes­ter­day, but fac­tory of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment.

Protest­ing work­ers have now added a slew of de­mands to bet­ter the fac­tory con­di­tions. They want bonuses for those who are never ab­sent, new sewing ma­chines and a larger staff if they are to be ex­pected to pro­duce more cloth­ing, U Saw Tin, who rep­re­sented the work­ers to the Yan­gon Re­gion Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil, said yes­ter­day.

Strik­ing work­ers said their protests have caused most of the work­ers and their fam­i­lies fi­nan­cial hard­ship.

Some donors and the Aung Para Heta monastery are pro­vid­ing meals for the work­ers.

The Ja­panese fac­tory owner, Ito Kiyokazu, opened the Sakura gar­ment fac­tory in 2006. He owns four other fac­to­ries in Myan­mar.

Sakura gar­ment fac­tory typ­i­cally op­er­ates with about 500 work­ers, of whom 316 are on strike.

Photo: Zaw Zaw Htwe

Sakura gar­ment fac­tory work­ers have been strik­ing since July 29.

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