Police hurt in hostage rescue at protest by unpaid factory workers
Nine policemen were injured as they tried to free officials held hostage by dozens of angry workers demanding wages and compensation after their factory was closed, authorities said on September 18.
More than 150 former employees converged on the Master Sport shoe factory on the outskirts of Yangon on September 16, demanding payment following the closure of the South Korean-owned operation in June.
U Kyaw Kyaw Tun, an assistant director of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security's factories department, said five government officials arrived hoping to defuse the situation, but were taken hostage by the workers.
"They (workers) said they had been waiting so long and that they wouldn't let them go if they didn't get their salaries by the end of this month. But they didn't harm them," he told AFP.
The officials – three from the ministry and two from local authorities – were held late into the night, with clashes between police and protesters during their rescue leaving nine officers injured, U Kyaw Kyaw Tun said.
Two polices officers were still in hospital in serious condition, he added.
State-run media said most of the protesters were women, which had presented a challenge for the police handling the angry crowd.
"We had to relax our police rules on crowd management to the lowest level," Police Lieutenant-Colonel Myint Lwint, was quoted as saying in the state-controlled NewLightofMyanmar. The English-language newspaper said police were considering whether to pursue criminal charges against any of the workers.
The report also said the ministry had filed a lawsuit against the factory after it closed without informing or paying its 757 employees, who were seeking wages and compensation.
U Kyaw Kyaw Tun said workers have been promised they will receive their wages on November 1, after the factory is auctioned by the state.
But U Moe Wai, a representative of the workers and a former employee at the factory, told the NewLightof Myanmar that the Master Sport staff could not wait months for the issue to be resolved. (AFP)
Protesters outside the South Korean embassy in Yangon on July 17 demanding compensation for employees of the Master Sport shoe factory, which was shut down the previous month, costing about 755 people their jobs. The protesters had marched the 6.2...