Yangon: Over 200 workers set up barricades around factory

 Some of the striking workers are seen at DJY Knitting Myanmar Ltd. sock factory. Zaw Zaw Htwe/The Myanmar Times
Some of the striking workers are seen at DJY Knitting Myanmar Ltd. sock factory.
5 Sept 2017 – Over 200 protesters from DJY Knitting Myanmar Co. Ltd sock factory, stepped up in their strike by building barricades around the factory on September 4, as their demands were denied again.

“The factory officials violated the law. They fired us without proper reasons. Now we’re also forced to break the law. We resorted to blockade in search of a better outcome,” worker leader Ko Phyoe Ko Ko Aung told The Myanmar Times on September 4.

The dispute was mediated by the Hlaing Tharyar township arbitration group in the morning of September 4, and has been passed on to the Yangon regional arbitration council due to a lack of settlement.

Strikers said that they will maintain the barricade until they get positive results. Workers asked the factory officials to re-hire them at their former positions or to compensate for the loss of jobs, in accordance with the labour law.

“The factory denied both rehiring and compensating. We have no other choice than to build barricades. It can last more than two months if we go with the routes of arbitration councils system and strikers have problems with their daily expenses,” said Ko Pyoe Ko Ko Aung.

Factory officials told The Myanmar Times on September 4 that they were blocked in the factory by the protesters. They have informed the respective officials of Myanmar, as well as the Chinese Embassy, to solve the dispute.

“They are acting against the law. What they are doing is illegal. We will solve this issue legally with the respective officials. We don’t talk with [the strikers] anymore,” said a factory official. He added that the factory will not compensate nor re-hire the strikers who were fired last month. Workers who want to join the factory again can apply as new recruits; they will not get their former jobs.

“Today, the worker’s demands were completely denied. The factory blocked every possible route for conciliation. We don’t encourage the barricades as it is illegal, but we also don’t object to their strike,” said Ko Aung Soe Min, labour supporting officer from the worker organisation We Generation. We Generation has been helping to solve the dispute between the workers and DJY sock factory.

Over 228 of the sock factory’s workers have been protesting since August 7, demanding the rehiring of their worker leader Ko Soe Thura Ko, and the creation of an independent labour union.

All strikers were sacked by the factory on August 22 because they failed to return to work by the deadline set by management.

The DJY Knitting Myanmar Co. Ltd, opened the sock factory in Haling Tharyar two years ago and has been producing various kinds of socks, including famous brands for export, according to a factory official.

There were about 400 workers in the factory, over 200 of which are currently on strike. Meanwhile over 100 of the workers are still working at the factory.

On September 1, protesters also marched to the Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone, demanding their rights.

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Myanmar: Meet the Burmese Punks Feeding Their Country’s Homeless

Punks in Yangon handing out food to the city’s homeless. Photos by Charlotte Bauer

13 July – Every Monday night, a group of black-clad, silver-studded punks meet beneath the overpass bridge that crosses Sule Pagoda Road in downtown Yangon, to distribute food to people living on the streets. On the evening VICE attended, even after the torrential monsoon rain had turned gutters into rivers, about 30 punks and hangers-on had gathered to help combat Yangon’s rising homelessness crisis.

Given the big turnout, we were split into two groups before making our way around the city, handing out meals of fried rice, bananas, and bottled water. The meals, which the punks cook themselves, are financed by donations. The night before, the group had been given a 50,000 Burmese kyat donation, about $44 US, which helped fund this evening’s supplies. Meals differ from week to week, and often clothing is also distributed.

Punk band Rebel Riot runs the food program. Image by Jirka Pasz

This project is the Burmese chapter of Food Not Bombs. It’s been running for three years now, led by members of local punk band Rebel Riot. The worldwide Food Not Bombs movement involves volunteers providing vegetarian meals to people in need. It was established in the States in 1980 and has an antipoverty and nonviolence ethos. The Yangon group is in contact with the main movement, albeit with “different opinions and directions.”

“I realized I had to do something, rather than just sing about changing the system,” said Kyaw Kyaw, a singer and guitarist in the band. He believes the current government has no understanding of the plight of the city’s homeless, whose numbers are growing. “Big companies come to Myanmar to make business, so it’s more and more expensive for land, homes, and flats, especially in Yangon, because it’s a major city.”

Continue reading “Myanmar: Meet the Burmese Punks Feeding Their Country’s Homeless”

Workers’ struggles in East Asia (April 2013)

From Spartacus’s blog on Libcom: Summary and links to news stories of workers’ struggles around East Asia during April 2013 and related resources. The most important stories appear on my Twitter feed as soon as I find them: http://twitter.com/spartacusnews.

This month there has been news from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Perhaps the most significant event from the last month has been the ongoing strike by dock workers at Asia’s third biggest port in Hong Kong – it has certainly received the most English language media coverage as you’ll see below. I decided not to post my usual list of most important stories as there were so many for that strike. They are still marked in bold for each country. For reports of workers struggles in Mandarin, as usual I urge you to check Jasmine Revolution and JTTP.cn with the help of a translator website if you need it.

All reports ordered by country and date: Continue reading “Workers’ struggles in East Asia (April 2013)”