Slipper factory workers take aim at supervisor
Around 600 of the 1555 workers at at a slipper factory in Mingaladon township are protesting a spate of alleged abuses, including sexual harassment and forced overtime.
ABOUT 600 of the 1555 workers at the Myanmar DYC slipper factory in Mingaladon township are protesting, demanding that management fire the operation’s Korean supervisor, who they say is abusive.
“Female workers claim they have been sexually harassed by the Korean supervisor,” said Pyithu Hluttaw MP U Aung Hlaing Win (NLD; Mingaladon). “Female workers do not dare to report him. Workers have asked the factory for only one demand: to change the supervisor. But factory officials did not change the supervisor.”
Workers have also been forced to work overtime, on Saturdays, without overtime pay, the lawmaker said.
He added that he found that labour officials have not solved the workers’ complaints and have largely stood by the employers.
“We want the factory to fire this Korean supervisor,” Ko San Min Than, a factory mechanist, said yesterday. “We will be satisfied if he changes departments. He is always scolding us while we are working. No one likes him, including the leaders.”
Workers say the Korean supervisor frequently scolds and swears at them. He sometimes kicks the workers, they said, and calls for them by pointing with his legs instead of hands, which is considered deeply disrespectful in Myanmar culture.
“I was fired with compensation because of this Korean supervisor,” said Ko Linn Htet Aung, another mechanist. “But I do not want compensation. I only want my job back.”
He said that the supervisor had scolded him and swore at him in front of many colleagues while he was working hard. As a result, Ko Linn Htet Aung shouted back.
“I was dismissed by the managing director of the factory even though I apologised to him for my mistake,” Ko Linn Htet Aung added.
Protests began on Saturday, after a different mechanist was fired.
A factory spokesperson, who asked not to be named, told The Myanmar Times yesterday that the factory has been asking staff to work seven hours and 20 minutes each day, six days a week, as is permitted under labour law, while other factories ask their staff to work eight hours a day for five days a week.
Under the current arrangement, the factory’s working hours do not exceed 48 hours a week, he said, and therefore are not triggering overtime allowances.
The factory official also said the boss agreed to attend a conciliation meeting, to include all labour department officials and worker representatives of the factory, to address the alleged rude behaviour of the Korean supervisor and to set boundaries for what would happen if he acted this way again.
Factory management claims that they invited MPs to discuss the issues on November 12, but that the lawmakers never showed up.
MPs have accused the factory of failing to pay overtime rates without understanding the working hours of the factory, the factory official said.
“Our workers have the right to protest if they are unsatisfied,” he said. “But we want to get the best result by solving our dispute according to the law.”
The Korean-owned factory opened in 2014.
Workers from the Myanmar DYC slipper factory are on strike, demanding a supervisor be fired.