State-owned Magwe factories under review
MAGWE labour officials are inspecting three state-owned factories for poor performance and plan to submit a report to the region hluttaw when it reopens. The Hluttaw’s Labour, Immigration and Population Committee is focusing on how workers’ rights can be improved on the state-run production lines, committee chair U Thet Khaing told The Myanmar Times.
Because the three factories are operating at a loss, workers’ paychecks are taking a hit, he said.
On September 6 and 7, the committee visited the factories and spoke with workers in Pwintphyu, Pakokku and Chauk townships.
“Each and every factory in the region is operating at a loss,” U Thet Khaing said. “The machines in the factories fall short of standards. They are not modern machines and require manpower. For the Salay fertiliser factory [in Chauk township], the machines are outdated but the factory continues to run by using such machines to their maximum effectiveness. So the production rate is down and the factory is losing money. Workers are stuck in the middle of this situation.”
The garment factories in Pwintphyu and Pakokku townships are mismanaged and daily-wage workers are suffering, he said.
“Daily-wage workers have to work in the factories for years in the hope of being appointed as government personnel,” U Thet Khaing said. “Some have been working there for 10 years while many others have been there for five to seven years. On the other hand, both the previous and the new governments have had difficulty assigning more staff in these factories that are running at a loss. But the government needs to keep in mind daily-wage workers who have been previously appointed without consideration of the factory’s future.”
The workers deserve a fair wage, he said, noting that the daily-wage workers in Chauk township’s Salay fertiliser factory make just K1100 per day, far under the K5000 per diem minimum wage instituted last year.
“In July, workers from the fertiliser packaging and bag producing department have submitted an official complaint over the loss of their rights,” Ma Yamin Ko, a worker from the factory, said, citing problems like a lack of workplace safety, no plan to permanently hire daily wage workers, and salaries below the mandatory minimum. “The relevant departments came and conducted an inspection, but nothing has been resolved so far.”
– Translation by Thiri Min Htun