Panda gar­ment work­ers to march to Nay Pyi Taw

The Myanmar Times - - News - kyawkoko@mm­ KYAW KO KO – Trans­la­tion by San Layy and Khine Thazin Han

AFTER five months of sit-in protests, work­ers from Panda Tex­tile Fac­tory in Man­dalay Re­gion’s Sin­gaing town­ship will march to Nay Pyi Taw, labour­ers told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day.

Novem­ber 3 marks the five-month an­niver­sary of the protests – which have been held by hun­dreds of work­ers in front of the fac­tory en­trance – aimed at get­ting man­age­ment to pay money that the work­ers claim they are en­ti­tled to un­der the terms of their con­tracts.

In 2012, the gov­ern­ment so­licited bids for the fac­tory, then called No 2 Tex­tile Fac­tory, to be pri­va­tised un­der an agree­ment that re­quired the new man­age­ment to re­tain its work­force, treat­ing them as gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees. The fac­tory’s man­age­ment in­sists there is no ba­sis to the work­ers’ claim to pay; the pro­test­ers say they had their pay cut and were forced to work on their days off, in breach of their em­ploy­ment con­tract.

The work­ers now say nei­ther the rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment de­part­ments nor the fac­tory man­age­ment has solved their dis­pute.

“As a re­sult, we de­cided to march to Nay Pyi Taw where the gov­ern­ment of­fice is lo­cated, be­cause the long days of protest im­pact work­ers’ fun­da­men­tal needs and health,” said head worker Ma Zarchi Win. “We sent a let­ter to the re­gional chief min­is­ter on October 26. Nine min­istries, in­clud­ing the State Coun­sel­lor’s Of­fice, have been no­ti­fied of the march.”

On Septem­ber 12, the Union min­is­ter for in­dus­try told the Pyithu Hlut­taw that the min­istry had al­ready granted Panda a long-term con­tract and that ac­tion would be taken against the fac­tory owner if any rules were bro­ken. A firm pol­icy would be es­tab­lished to re­solve the dis­pute, the min­is­ter told law­mak­ers.

In May, a group of protest­ing work­ers from a ply­wood fac­tory in Sa­gaing Re­gion were ar­rested as they en­tered Nay Pyi Taw.

“Un­der the new gov­ern­ment ad­min­is­tra­tion, a labour strike march­ing from Sa­gaing to Nay Pyi Taw was crushed,” Ma Zarchi Win said. “We also pre­dict that our march could be crushed. How­ever, we be­lieve that our elected gov­ern­ment will not ne­glect us and we de­cided to walk to Nay Pyi Taw. There will be more than 600 labour­ers.”

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