Caddies protest on Mandalay’s greens
MANDALAY’S golfers could be left carrying their own bags following the suspension of 68 caddies from employment at Shwe Man Taung golf course in Mandalay after they conducted a demonstration protesting anti-union actions taken by their employer.
The caddies staged a sit-in demonstration at the course on October 9, asking the Mandalay Region government to stop the Shwe Man Dakon company from taking action aimed at dismantling the influence of labour unions at the golf course.
They also called on the government to take action against supposed illegal activities occurring at the course and to reconsider the lease of public land to the private company.
Following the caddies’ protest, an internal letter was circulated at the course which stated that the 68 protesters were suspended, said U Thaung Tin Win, a member of Shwe Man Taung golf course’s labour organisation.
“The company released an intraoffice letter announcing the 68 caddies are suspended. We think that they have acted illegally in this regard. The workers who are suspended so far have not been allowed to resume their duties. Guards are posted at the entrance [to the course],” said U Thaung Tin Win.
“We have submitted letters asking relevant authorities to solve the dispute,” he added.
The golf club issued a statement, signed by its general manager, which said the caddies had been suspended as their behaviour had damaged the prestige and fame of the club during the Thadingyut Cup tournament, which was being held at the time of the sit-in protest.
The golf course’s general manager, U Myo Thant, told The Myanmar Times that the 68 workers have been suspended in order to avoid further problems at the course, though it is just a temporary suspension. He said the company will allow them to come back to work if they agree to follow the golf course’s rules.
“We’ve suspended them temporarily because they staged a protest when a match was going to start, meaning they violated club rules. It is a temporary suspension, not a sacking,” he said.
“Caddies are not officially employed by the golf course but they are paid by golfers who use our course,” he added.
In July this year, caddies at the course staged another protest demanding formal employment agreements from the club. They were pressing similar demands in this more recent demonstration.
“The Ministry of Labour has told us that a negotiation between employer, employees and the government will be conducted on October 13 at the township labour office. We will demand, in particular, that we be given formal employment agreements that adhere to national labour laws. If not, protests like this will continue happening,” said U Thaung Tin Win.
The Shwe Man Taung golf course directly employs 100 staff and allows around 300 caddies to work on the course. It was established in 2013 by the Shwe Man Dakon company in partnership with Mandalay City Development Committee. –
‘We will demand ... formal employment agreements that adhere to national labour laws.’
U Thaung Tin Win Caddy labour activist
Caddies protest at Shwe Man Taung golf course in Mandalay.