“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.