Com­pen­sa­tion sought from em­ploy­ment agency

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­

Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers are seeking ad­di­tional com­pen­sa­tion from an em­ploy­ment agency after its al­leged fail­ure to se­cure them promised jobs in Thai­land.

EIGH­TEEN Myan­mar mi­grant work­ers are seeking ad­di­tional com­pen­sa­tion from the Per­fect Com­pany em­ploy­ment agency over what they say is its fail­ure to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for the job­less­ness to which they were sub­jected upon ar­riv­ing in Thai­land.

That de­nial is in vi­o­la­tion of an in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MoU), the work­ers and the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions Myan­mar (CTUM) said yes­ter­day.

“We were stranded in Thai­land for 70 days with­out get­ting any job,” said Ko Kyaw Soe Han, one of the mi­grant work­ers, who was forcibly re­turned to Myan­mar in Septem­ber. “We also had to live there off the do­na­tions of CSOs [civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions], AAC [the Aid Al­liance Com­mit­tee] and Bud­dhist monks. The com­pany sup­plied us noth­ing. So we are not sat­is­fied with the agency. We want com­pen­sa­tion for our griev­ances.”

He said that ad­di­tion­ally, Per­fect Com­pany failed to meet a Novem­ber 1 dead­line to pay 13 days’ wages that 26 mi­grants worked in Septem­ber, also in vi­o­la­tion of the terms of the MoU.

“The com­pany paid only K50,000 [US$39] to each one. Eight work­ers out of the 26 are sat­is­fied with this amount, but we are not sat­is­fied. We want to sue the com­pany for the sym­bol­ism of it, to let the next mi­grants who are plan­ning to go abroad know,” Ko Kyaw Soe Han told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day.

The Per­fect Com­pany has re­futed the al­le­ga­tions of malfea­sance lev­elled against it.

“We have al­ready given all the money, in­clud­ing our agency fees, to the work­ers. The rest of the money is the obli­ga­tion of the Thai com­pany,” Ma Myat Thu Win, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Per­fect Com­pany, said yes­ter­day, re­fer­ring to a co­op­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment agency in Thai­land. “We can’t give the money in the stead of the Thai com­pany.” The CTUM, how­ever, begs to dif­fer. “The 18 work­ers are not sat­is­fied with the wages of the com­pany. So we will re­port to the labour min­istry to take ac­tion against the com­pany as a first step. We have al­ready planned to bring a suit against the com­pany if the min­istry’s ac­tions are not suit­able,” said Ko Hein Latt, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the CTUM’s mi­gra­tion af­fairs depart­ment.

The Per­fect Com­pany em­ploy­ment agency was sup­posed to send 276 work­ers to Thai­land to work at a bak­ing fac­tory on a two-year con­tract, ac­cord­ing to the MoU inked be­tween the gov­ern­ments of Myan­mar and Thai­land.

But in­stead, the work­ers found them­selves in Thai­land stranded with­out jobs for more than two months. They were even­tu­ally di­vided into smaller groups and sent to be em­ployed in a va­ri­ety of in­dus­tries, in­clud­ing at baked goods, elec­tron­ics and jelly-pro­cess­ing fac­to­ries.

Twenty-six of the mi­grant labour­ers, in­clud­ing Ko Kyaw Soe Han, were sent to a soap fac­tory, the work­ers told The Myan­mar Times.

The work­ers have also com­plained of work­ing con­di­tions in which they were re­quired to han­dle chem­i­cals that posed po­ten­tial health haz­ards with­out the pro­vi­sion of ad­e­quate safety equip­ment.

Em­ployed at the fa­cil­ity for less than two weeks, the labour­ers were sent back to the Myan­mar border with the co­op­er­a­tion of Thai po­lice after they asked to be trans­ferred to a dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tion, mi­grant Ko Thet Naing Oo told The Myan­mar Times.

Ko Hein Latt of the CTUM said Per­fect Com­pany had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide 75 per­cent of a daily wage to all the work­ers it sent abroad for ev­ery day they spent job­less, in ac­cor­dance with the MoU’s pro­vi­sions.

“This prob­lem also con­cerns the agency in Thai­land. They must take re­spon­si­bil­ity be­cause they sum­moned the work­ers with­out any job [to of­fer]. But our agency also failed to solve their prob­lems ef­fec­tively,” the gen­eral sec­re­tary of the Myan­mar Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Agen­cies Fed­er­a­tion, U Kyaw Zaw, told The Myan­mar Times yes­ter­day.

For the mo­ment, the Min­istry of Labour has re­scinded Per­fect Com­pany’s over­seas em­ploy­ment li­cence for one year, U Kyaw Zaw said, and the agency could face fur­ther puni­tive ac­tion from the min­istry if the work­ers again re­port griev­ances.

Photo: Zaw Zaw Htwe

Mi­grant worker Ko Thet Naing Oo shows his con­tract from the Per­fect over­seas em­ploy­ment agency on Oc­to­ber 21.

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