Work­ers protest union mem­ber dis­missals

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYAW KO KO kyawkoko@mm­times.com

FAC­TORY work­ers in Man­dalay yes­ter­day protested re­cent dis­missals of a num­ber of union mem­bers in what they claim was an at­tempt to dis­man­tle the in­flu­ence of labour unions in their work­places.

More than 150 work­ers from the Sein Kabar tex­tile fac­tory and labour­ers from the Fu Xing Brothers com­pany staged a demon­stra­tion de­mand­ing the re­in­state­ment of their dis­missed col­leagues. Over the course of a week, 10 union mem­bers were dis­missed from the Sein Kabar fac­tory.

“The dis­missal of union mem­bers is an at­tempt to de­mol­ish the unions. [The em­ploy­ers] have no solid rea­son for dis­miss­ing these work­ers. The Min­istry of Labour should in­ter­vene,” said U Thet Hnin Aung, mem­ber of the Myan­mar In­dus­tries, Crafts and Services (MICS) Trade Union Fed­er­a­tion.

“Work­ers are wor­ried em­ploy­ers will act ex­ploita­tively as they know that jobs are hard to find,” he added.

Along with calls for the re­in­state­ment of the Sein Kabar em­ploy­ees, the protest­ing work­ers de­manded changes to what they deemed as anti-union poli­cies at Fu Xing Brothers com­pany, as well as more se­ri­ous penal­ties for em­ploy­ers who break the law, in­clud­ing jail time and op­er­at­ing bans.

The work­ers said that the cur­rent sys­tem of labour dis­pute set­tle­ment is in­ef­fec­tive be­cause it is too easy for em­ploy­ers to ig­nore the ar­bi­tra­tion coun­cil rul­ings as the penal­ties for de­fy­ing the or­ders are low.

Cur­rently, work­ers who are un­fairly dis­missed can lodge a com­plaint with the rel­e­vant ar­bi­tra­tion body. If their claim is valid, the ar­bi­tra­tion coun­cil may or­der the em­ployer to re­hire them. If the em­ployer does not do so, they may be fined up to K1 mil­lion.

“Em­ploy­ers are fined K1,000,000 if they [im­prop­erly] dis­miss the work­ers ac­cord­ing to the Labour Dis­putes Law. K1,000,000 is noth­ing for them. How­ever, for work­ers, job se­cu­rity is se­ri­ously af­fected,” said U Nya Lin Aung, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer from Dagon Soe Moe 3 Ba­sic Labour­ers Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Laws gov­ern­ing labour dis­putes have been in force in Myan­mar since 1929 and have been amended nu­mer­ous times by var­i­ous gov­ern­ments. The lat­est it­er­a­tion of the law was born from a 2014 amend­ment to the 2012 Labour Dis­putes law. – Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han and San Lay

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