Workers from 12 factories in industrial zones in Yangon staged protests on October 23. Due to these demonstrations, some companies are likely to stop operations or shut down and pay compensation after failing to reach an agreement with the workers, Wanbe Vermicelli Factory reportedly shut down last month after it failed to negotiate a salary hike, said sources from a workers’ union that brokered the matter. In July, Ministry of Labour officials already met with business owners of more than 100 factories after workers protested the low wages and allowances.
However, despite an agreement being reached then, more than 1,200 factory workers protested again this month due to dissatisfaction over the low salaries.
“The employer has broken the agreement reached with us,” said Ei Zaw Phyu, a staff member from Tawwin Finished Wood Factory. ”A lot of people in Myanmar need jobs, so it’s easy to get replacements. Another point is that most employers don’t want labour unions. Consequently, problems have erupted between employees and employers,” said Kyaw Kyaw, leader of Action Labour Right. The government has allowed the formation of labour unions since March. Protests earlier this year were due to breach of contract and the ban on labour unions, which has caused the dismissal of those involved in them. Meanwhile, a bill fixing the lowest salary rate has not been approved although it was discussed at a regular parliamentary session in July.