Saturday, 26 May 2012

Strike wave among workers in Myanmar

The Irrawaddy reports on the spreading strike wave among workers in Myanmar, particularly at the Hlaing Thar Yar industrial zone:
More than 5,000 workers in five different factories at Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone have been striking for better pay for two weeks... All the Hlaing Tharyar striking factories are close to one another with industrial action spreading to each over the course of a week. Since the middle of May, there has been a series of walk-outs in HI Mo wig factory, Sapae Pwint, Myanmar Pearl, Nay Min Aung, YJ and Tokyo garment factories, as well as Nawaday and Sunflower factories at different times.Employees of the three garment factories—Sapae Pwint, Pearl and Nay Min Aung—gathered at the Labor Affairs Office in Rangoon’s Mayangone Township on May 16. The following day, government authorities, including Lower House MP Aung Thein Lin from Rangoon’s South Oakkalarpa Township, met to negotiate with the factory owners. However, despite their involvement no progress has yet been made. Ohmar Nyein, a female worker at Sapae Pwint garment factory, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that, “the authorities just favor the employers, we are told what their offer is but they are not listening to our demands.”
These strikes were also reported in the Myanmar Times:
THE owners of two factories in Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone have set a May 21 deadline for some 1300 striking employees to return to work. Daw Su Sandar, the manager of garment factory Myanma Pearl, said the factory’s owner, Daw Sandar Aung, had agreed to most of the striking workers’ demands and those that did not stop demonstrating by May 21 would be fired. Myanmar Pearl employs 1090 workers, while Sabei Pwint, owned by her sister, Daw Thandar Aung, employs 600. About 1300 workers from the two factories began striking on May 15, calling for better pay and conditions.
In addition, The Irrawaddy reports that 25 workers at a steel factory in Hmawbi began a hunger strike on Friday, May 25:

Around 25 workers at a Chinese-owned steel factory in Rangoon Division announced on Friday that they will begin a hunger strike in response to the company’s refusal to raise wages. The workers are among a group of 400 who have been on strike at the Yangon Crown Steel Factory in Hmawbi, Rangoon Division, since May 20. The factory is located in the Myantakar Industrial Zone... Meanwhile, strikes at factories in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone continue weeks after workers first walked off the job. “Today, workers at nine factories continued their strikes,” U Htay, a lawyer who is acting a legal consultant to the striking workers, told The Irrawaddy on Friday. He added that a total of more than 7,000 workers from these factories are on strike... Workers at the factory allege that Korean managers at the factory were abusive to their Burmese staff, in some cases physically assaulting female workers. Although the factory’s management and workers reached an agreement to end the strike earlier this month after labor officials became involved in negotiations, the company’s owners have since refused to pay the agreed-to wage increase.
Workers at the factory say that in addition to a lack of food, they haven’t had water or electricity in their dormitories since yesterday.
 Regarding this strike wage, ABC Radio (Australia) has an interview with Sean Turnell.

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