Panda garment workers to march to Nay Pyi Taw
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.”