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Mass protest in Myanmar calling for enforced labour law

30 August, 2019Thousands of workers from 50 factories demonstrated in the morning of 29 August, demanding that the newly revised law on settlement of labour disputes be implemented.

4,000 workers in the Hlaing Thar Yar district and 600 workers in the Kyauk Tan district voiced their protests over the lack of implementation of the amended law, which was passed in June this year. Many of the demonstrators wore red, the colour of their union, IndustriALL affiliate Industrial Workers’ Federation of Myanmar (IWFM).

Two union leaders, Kyi Thi Win and Shane Thu, were fired from Prosperity Knitting factory in June, as they were setting up of a basic labour organization in the factory.

The IWFM is demanding the immediate reinstatement of the two union leaders and effective implementation of the new law.

“This is a violation of workers’ rights,” says Khaing Zar, IWFM president and IndustriALL Executive Committee member. “We have exhausted all institutional channels like the labour department, the township conciliation body and Ministry of Labour, but the government is turning a deaf ear to this serious violation of workers’ right.”

According to Article 23 of the revised law on settling labour disputes, a dispute between an employer and a worker will be handled by the labour department or the court. In the previous dispute settlement mechanism a township conciliation body acted as the mediator.

“The case of the union leaders fired in June clearly shows that the authorities are not upholding the law and reinstating unfairly dismissed workers. We are calling on the government to enforce the amendment of the law and recognise workers’ right to organize and form a union,” Khaing Zar added.