Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Eleven Media: Most Myanmar migrant workers have no desire to come back—Rights Network

So, contrary to an IOM survey presented last December, according to which "Most Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand would like to return home, and the country could face a shortage of over five million workers as a result by 2025,"  the Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) is now saying "Most Myanmar migrant workers have no desire to come back."  According to Eleven Media (23 March, 2014):
Most Myanmar migrant workers in Thailand have not returned to Myanmar due to poor business and employment opportunities back home, sources from the Thailand-based Migrant Worker Rights Network (MWRN) say.
There are very few migrant workers who want to return home and resettle there. The salaries they have in Thailand are not enough for them to return to Myanmar. Although their aim is to resettle back home after ten years of working in Thailand, they can’t save enough to do that,” said Kyaw Zaw Lynn, MWRN secretary and planning manager for the Network’s Yangon branch office.
However, added Kyaw Zaw Lynn, the migrant workers cannot support their families due to low salaries here. They say they will come back only if the salary in Myanmar is nearly equal to what they earn in Thailand.
Myanmar workers rarely came back for visits to Myanmar before 2009. That was because they were illegally working in Thailand and they faced other problems such as threats to their lives and human trafficking. Moreover, the travel expense was so expensive. Since 2009, more Myanmar migrant workers have returned home because they have temporary passports and visas to work in Thailand officially,” he said.
Myanmar workers in Thailand have very few rights and are working for whatever salary the employers provide. They also face lack of job security in Thailand, and police are often threatening the workers to pay bribe fees.
Myanmar workers need to change their temporary passports into standard passports. However, they are facing other problems because the registration number for their insurance, driver’s licence, bank accounts and other documents issued for the temporary passports will be different from those issued for the standard passports.

Myanmar workers' struggles in Mae Sot, Phuket and Myanmar

Recent workers' struggles in Thailand and Myanmar:

"Myanmar Embassy Official visits Phuket over allegations of workers’ rights violations," Phuket Gazette, 26 March 2014

"Mae Sot migrants demand labour rights," Democratic Voice of Burma, 26 March 2014,
Nearly a thousand Burmese migrant workers staged a rally outside their garment factory in northern Thailand, calling for improved labour rights. Workers at the Thai-owned Yuan Jiou Garment Co Ltd in Thailand’s border town Mae Sot are striking over unpaid wages and long working hours. A factory worker told DVB they are punished for not keeping up with demands. “We have to work from 8 am until 10 o’clock at night and make 120 garments. If we cannot make them we are all scolded. If we can make 120 garments, they ask for 140 garments the next day,” he said. The minimum wage in Thailand is 300 baht (US$9) per day. However the migrant workers said they are not receiving that amount, and are forced to lie during inspections of the factory. “If we tell the truth, we are laid off from work,” another worker at the factory said. One worker said they get fined 200 baht (US$6) for taking sick leave or for attending family emergencies such as funerals. “If we ask for leave we don’t get it right away. We still have to work in the factory while we are sick,” said a migrant worker. “We have to jump through many hoops to get a signature for leave. There are many problems.” The workers are demanding they receive minimum wage plus overtime pay. They want adequate sick leave and financial help for those who are injured at work, and shorter working hours. The migrant workers have complained to the Thai Department of Labour Protection and Welfare but said they would continue with their protest, until their demands have been met.
"Wanbao workers walk off job for better pay," Eleven Media, 23 March 2014
Trainee graduates working for the Myanmar-Wanbao company refused to work on Saturday (March 22) and held out for twice as much pay. The company currently pays US$ 120 a month to both graduates and general workers. A total of 234 trainee graduates are demanding US$ 240 instead of the current amount and refused to sign an employment contract for US$ 120. “They are residents of 26 villages near the project area. Even a general worker gets US$ 110 in Yansi and a trucker whose education is only the eighth standard gets US$ 180,” said an employee from the company. One villager complained about nepotistic hiring practices at the company.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Just-Style: Hlaing Tha Yar garment factory workers secure 20% pay rise

Just-Style reports ("Workers at garment factory secure 20% pay rise"), 19 March 2014:
Collective bargaining by a union in Burma/Myanmar has secured a 20% pay rise for garment workers at a factory in Yangon. The IndustriAll Global Union said the increase for workers at the Yes 1 facility was won after “tense and drawn-out” negotiations, and was formulated in an Industriall training workshop attended by union president Win Theinghi Soe, as well as other executive committee members, in December 2013. The Korean owners of the factory in the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone agreed to a pay rise equivalent to US$26, taking the maximum monthly salary for the 1,600 workers (1,200 of them union members) from $124 to $150. Industriall said there were now an estimated 400 garment factories in Myanmar, employing more than 200,000 workers and growing fast.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Select articles: Jan - Feb 2014

Select articles from January - February 2014.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Eleven Media: Farmers become migrant workers as the farming worsen

"Farmers become migrant workers as the farming worsen", Eleven Media, 12 Jan 2014

Due to various reasons, farmers nowadays are leaving their farm and became migrant workers, according to the questions asked to farmers’ environment. Land confiscation, high cost in expenditure for cultivation, low cost for the yield crops, small production due to poor technology in farming, climatic changes and scarcity of cattle are some of the reasons why farmers leave their leave their farm to become migrant workers.

The Irrawaddy: Burma Opens New Passport Offices Around the Country

"Burma Opens New Passport Offices Around the Country", The Irrawaddy, 10 Jan 2014

Burmese citizens can now apply for and directly receive passports at 15 locations around the country. Previously the country had only one passport office, in Rangoon.

Burmese migrants stabbed in "gang battle"

The Phuket Wan reports on 8 Jan 2014: PHUKET:

Two Burmese were killed near a Red Cross concert last night on Phuket after a Thai superstar became embroiled in Thailand's national election protest and the concert was banned from going ahead. The killings of the two Burmese in a gang battle is likely to see a night curfew imposed immediately at the scores of workers' camps across the popular international holiday island.