Im­pris­oned protesters con­tinue to de­mand Sa­gaing fac­tory jobs

The Myanmar Times - - News - Kyawkoko@mm­times.com KYAW KO KO

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

Photo: Kyaw Ko Ko

Work­ers from a Sa­gaing Re­gion ply­wood fac­tory be­gan their march to Nay Pyi Taw on April 29.

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