Sakura gar­ment fac­tory strike ends with ne­go­ti­a­tions

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAW ZAW HTWE news­room@mm­

THE strike at Sakura gar­ment fac­tory is fi­nally over, two months af­ter it be­gan. The truce re­quired the in­ter­ven­tion of law­mak­ers to ne­go­ti­ate a re­duc­tion of daily pro­duc­tion tar­gets.

“Now, we have all re­turned to work at the fac­tory,” said Ma Thuzar Win, a sewing op­er­a­tor. “Fac­tory of­fi­cials agreed to pay us our wages again start­ing from the date we re­turned to the fac­tory.”

The work­ers’ strike out­side the Ja­panese-owned Sakura gar­ment fac­tory be­gan in late July when fac­tory of­fi­cials tried to in­crease the work­force’s daily pro­duc­tion tar­gets with­out em­ploy­ees’ con­sent.

The pick­et­ing work­ers split ways on Septem­ber 17 when about half of the pro­test­ers de­cided to re­turn to the fac­tory pro­duc­tion line. But 171 work­ers kept the protest go­ing, dis­sat­is­fied with the Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil’s rul­ing, which did not re­solve the pri­mary con­cern – pro­duc­tion quo­tas.

The Yan­gon Re­gion ar­bi­tra­tional body had in­structed the fac­tory to re­hire the 316 strik­ing work­ers, con­sult with them over pro­duc­tion ex­pec­ta­tions and com­pen­sate with back pay over the strik­ing pe­riod. Rul­ing on an ap­peal, the cen­tral Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil up­held the rul­ing on Septem­ber 12, mi­nus the stip­u­la­tion of back pay.

But as the dis­pute res­o­lu­tion body did not weigh in on the pro­duc­tion quo­tas, leav­ing the is­sue to be ne­go­ti­ated between em­ployer and em­ploy­ees, work­ers said they feared re­turn­ing would re­sult in their con­cerns be­ing steam­rolled.

On Septem­ber 21, mem­bers of the Hlaing Thara­yar town­ship branch of the Na­tional League for Democ­racy ar­ranged ne­go­ti­a­tions between the fac­tory of­fi­cials and re­main­ing pro­test­ers.

“We were wor­ried about the strik­ers. They could have faced le­gal ac­tion if they failed to obey the coun­cil’s rul­ing and did not go back to work. So we ar­ranged talks,” said Yan­gon Re­gion MP U Myat Min Thu (NLD; Hlaing Thar­yar 2).

He said the fac­tory agreed to al­low the protest­ing work­ers to re­sume their jobs at the fac­tory with the for­mer, base­line pro­duc­tion tar­gets. The work­ers agreed in front of the labour of­fi­cials and the MPs. He added that fac­tory of­fi­cials also promised com­pen­sa­tion for the strike pe­riod, and to obey all labour laws go­ing for­ward.

“We agreed to go back to the fac­tory af­ter some con­so­la­tions and com­pro­mises,” said Ma Cho Cho Latt, a union leader and one of the strik­ing work­ers.

She added that all work­ers agreed to sign em­ployee con­tracts.

Fac­tory of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment on the set­tle­ment when con­tacted by The Myan­mar Times on Septem­ber 23.

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