Slipper fac­tory work­ers take aim at su­per­vi­sor

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - ZAW ZAW HTWE za­wza­whtwe@mm­times.com

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.

Photo: Face­book/Sup­plied

Work­ers from the Myan­mar DYC slipper fac­tory are on strike, de­mand­ing a su­per­vi­sor be fired.

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