Owner of closed gar­ment fac­tory com­pen­sates work­ers at last

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

MORE than two months af­ter the man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tion’s clo­sure, the South Korean owner of Hla Won Htet Tha gar­ment fac­tory has fi­nally paid his 85 for­mer em­ploy­ees in full, ac­cord­ing to the Hlaing Thar­yar town­ship Labour Re­la­tions Depart­ment.

“The fac­tory owner paid back the rest of the un­paid wages, as he promised,” depart­ment direc­tor U Khin Maung Cho said yes­ter­day. “So, we do not need to file a tax law­suit.”

The out­stand­ing com­pen­sa­tion was paid out on Septem­ber 10.

The Korean-owned fac­tory opened in the Shwe Lin Ban in­dus­trial zone in 2013 and closed its doors on June 25 of this year, with­out a plan for how to com­pen­sate the laid-off work­ers.

Af­ter the dis­grun­tled work­ers raised the is­sue, they were given salaries for their work through June, but not their sev­er­ance pay­ments, which are re­quired by law.

Work­ers protested twice in front of the shut­tered fac­tory and re­ceived par­tial sev­er­ance pay­ments on July 17. The owner promised, in a con­tract that was signed in front of Labour Depart­ment of­fi­cials, to fork over the rest by Au­gust 7, but that date came and went with­out pay­ment.

A Hlaing Thar­yar town­ship court hit the owner with a K500,000 (US$410) fine on Septem­ber 1 for fail­ing to pay the work­ers at the promised date. Labour of­fi­cials threat­ened to file an ad­di­tional tax law­suit if he did not pay up and the owner ap­pealed the de­ci­sion, promis­ing to pay on Septem­ber 10.

Fac­tory labour lead­ers have com­plained that labour of­fi­cials failed to stand by the work­ers’ side.

“The fac­tory boss has never been afraid of laws,” said labour leader Ma Win Win Soe. “Our of­fi­cials are afraid of him be­cause our of­fi­cials had to obey the de­ci­sion of the fac­tory owner.”

Labour of­fi­cials set the fac­tory owner’s pay dates with­out con­sult­ing the work­ers, she added.

The work­ers, many of them re­main­ing un­em­ployed, had to wait more than two months to re­ceive the K5.8 mil­lion that was owed to the group, she said.

U Khin Maung Cho de­fended the labour of­fi­cials’ con­duct, say­ing such dis­putes re­quire step-by-step res­o­lu­tion that at times in­volves wait­ing for fur­ther in­struc­tions from higher au­thor­ity while ad­her­ing to reg­u­la­tions and laws.

“We un­der­stand the feel­ing of the work­ers,” he said. “They want their wages as fast as they are legally en­ti­tled to them. That is not wrong.”

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