Imprisoned protesters continue to demand Sagaing factory jobs
WORKERS from Sagaing Region who were arrested after attempting to march to Nay Pyi Taw are continuing to demand their plywood factory jobs back.
If their needs are not met, the workers say they plan to protest at the factory gates.
On April 29, more than 120 workers set out from the foreign-owned Myanmar Veneer and Plywood factory in the Padamyar industrial zone, marching through 40 degree Celsius heat to bring their concerns to MPs in the capital. On May 18, as they approached milepost 289 in Nay Pyi Taw’s Tatkon township, 71 marchers were arrested.
Fifteen protesters, including seven workers and five members of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), were detained in Yamethin Prison and faced trial, while the others were released.
Twelve protesters and activists, including labour leaders, were sentenced to five months’ imprisonment under sections 505(b), 143 and 145 of the penal code for unlawful assembly, rioting and creating public fear. They were released for time served on November 12.
Now the protesters are fighting to get their jobs back.
“The government made all different kinds of promises to our protesting workers,” labour leader Ko Khaing Min said yesterday. “We will continue to demand that they be reinstated at the plywood factory where we were previously employed. The protesting will start at the gate of factory. The factory has hired foreign workers instead of us. I want the relevant authorities to check whether or not these hirings were done officially.”
The plywood factory workers are calling for better transportation, higher salaries for tenured employees, housing arrangements, additional wages for good attendance and local, rather than foreign, management.
“We demand that they implement the promises that were pledged by Nay Pyi Taw’s Amyotha Hluttaw MP U Ye Mon when we started protesting,” Ko Khaing Min said. “U Ye Mon promised to take action against the factory owner and solve the labour disputes submitted to the hluttaw. We will continue to demand that they amend the labour law, which is weak, by cooperating with the mass of workers across the country.”
The employer, which could not be reached for comment yesterday, fired 162 of the protesting workers.
– Translation by San Lay
‘We demand that they implement the promises that were pledged ... when we started protesting.’ Ko Khaing Min Labour leader
Workers from a Sagaing Region plywood factory began their march to Nay Pyi Taw on April 29.