Garment factory owner refuses to rehire striking workers
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.
Sakura garment factory workers have been striking since July 29.