Friday, 15 July 2016

More on the repression of workers in "democratic" Myanmar

Sagaing workers, facing trial for their protest march to the capital, will be sentenced to a month in prison or a K5000 fine after being held in contempt of court yesterday. The workers irritated court staffers by refusing to take the proceedings seriously and instead staging civil disobedience by yelling out and singing during four straight hearings.

(yet another) Thai migrant registration deadline

The Thai Labor Ministry yesterday said it would refuse to extend the July 29 deadline for migrant workers to register themselves, stating they will arrest workers who have not registered from next month.

Monday, 11 July 2016

On the regulation and repression/extortion of migrants in Thailand

"The migrant workers said these stickers allow them to sell stuff on the street without fear of official intervention as bribes have been paid but so far the identity of the person or persons who issued them is unknown."
"Bangkok police chief vows to punish five station heads if graft stickers surface in their responsible areas," Pattaya Mail, 31 May 2016
"IN A BID to counter the problem of illegal migrants, foreign workers without permits face the prospect of mass arrests and large fines... According to Arak, the committee agreed to have a subcommittee study six resolutions:... guidelines to track registered workers' homes and jobs; a new version of work permits that shows jobs and areas of residence; ... The director-general said to crack down on illegal labour, the ministry needs to take aggressive action. Workers without work permits will be jailed and made to pay a large fine. He said the ministry had tried to intensify punishment of employers who hire illegal labourers as well... Currently, there are 39 "skilled" jobs such as cooks, hairdressers, sellers and service sector work that Cambodian, Myanmar and Lao workers cannot do, Arak said. But many illegal workers do these jobs... in response to scandals over illegal workers bribing police to work without papers, police were responsible for the issue and the ministry would not interfere. The ministry could only ask for police and concerned parties to cooperate and crack down on non-registered workers."
"Illegal workers face major crackdown," The Nation, 14 June 2016
"In many cases when workers or employers cannot personally apply for a permit, they hire brokers to secure the necessary documents. But Aung's employer said that could cost as much as Bt10,000 per employee... And even though Aung and his five fellow waiters have no legal work status, their employer has provided a degree of protection by bribing police and other officials. "Currently there are eight police and other authority offices that take bribes from me," he said. "Each one takes at least Bt500 per month per head, making me pay about Bt20,000 in total. And I have no choice but to pay." Millions of migrants from Myanmar work... in an even more complex situation if they work as vendors.... Mu said three different groups of police have told her to pay bribes of Bt3,000 per month after an initial "fine" of Bt25,000 in exchange for "job security". "Dreams of a migrant worker to have a good life here is far from the truth," she said. Mu earns about Bt300 a day from the stall. She has to pay the police bribes, rent for her stall and support her two schoolchildren. That prevents her from saving anything or sending funds back to her family... The government tackles the problem with short-term crackdowns."
 "Many Myanmar migrants caught in an illegal limbo," The Nation, 20 June 2016

More on the spatial fix to Myanmar

"Chinese garment factories are interested in investing in Myanmar due to the country’s cheap labour and market potential. As... China’s basic wages have been rising, textile proprietors are flocking to Southeast Asian countries, where wages are relatively cheap... Myanmar’s garment industry began blooming in 2014 and earned $1.5 billion from exports. More than 230,000 workers were involved in the industry as of 2015. Foreign investment into the industry is also rising; 26.5 per cent of Myanmar’s total FDI went into garment industry in 2013, followed by 27.4 per cent in 2014 and 29 per cent in 2015. The industry runs on a piecework basis. Myanmar’s garment exports primarily go to Japan, the EU and South Korea." 
"China eyes Myanmar garment industry: Hong Kong trade report," Eleven Media, 28 June 2016

Police repression of workers' struggles in "democratic" Myanmar

"Police have used force to crack down on the worker protest march from Sagaing’s Myanmar Veneer Plywood Private Limited (MVPPL) on May 18. The protesters were awaiting the arrival of Nay Pyi Taw’s council chairman Dr Myo Aung at the entrance of Tatkon when a disagreement broke out with the police... According to Nay Pyi Taw police superintendent Ko Ko Aung: “We have already made it clear that this protest is an illegal gathering under Sections 127 and 128 of the penal code. It has no legal permission. The council chairman was waiting in Tatkon to negotiate with the protest leaders but they rejected the offer and no negotiations worked. They then attempted to go past the blockade so we took action. “There are a couple of protesters that incited and instigated the action. They will be investigated and charged.” ... Protesters claimed an unnecessary amount of force was used. “The police beat and arrested us. People in civilian clothing also joined in to beat us. Women were also beaten. A girl might die,” said a detained protester from one of the police vans... “We were brutally beaten and arrested under the administration of a civilian government that we voted for. Should this happen? Is this fair?” shouted protest leader Khine Min from inside a police vehicle."
"Police break worker protest," Eleven Media, 19 May 2016
"Around 50 factory workers and activists involved in a protest march in Myanmar... have been charged with rioting... The protesters had been blocked by police as they tried to march into the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, on Wednesday, resulting in scuffles. They were demanding union recognition and for fired workers to be re-hired. The new government has been discussing amending military-era laws allowing police to clamp down on such protests."
"Myanmar charges 50 with rioting after protest march," BBC, 20 May 2016
"They are being charged under Articles 143 and 145, 147 and 505(b) ... for joining in or continuing an unlawful assembly and rioting,” said Colonel Ko Ko Aung of the Naypyidaw police told RFA’s Myanmar Service. The first three articles pertain to participating in an unlawful assembly, refusing to obey police and causing disorder, while Article 505(b) of the penal code pertains to disturbing public order... The current law passed in 2012 under the previous military-backed government requires those planning demonstrations to obtain permission from local authorities five days in advance and to provide details about their planned activities."
"Myanmar Police Charge Workers Involved in Labor Rights Protest," RFA, 20 May 2016