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Red armbands for wage increases in Myanmar

1 June, 2015Using red armbands as a powerful symbol, workers in Myanmar have succeeded in achieving pay rises without stopping production.   

IndustriALL affiliate Mine Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM) has achieved a pay rise for workers at the YangTSe, Paypauk AukShin, SinoHydro. Myanmar Wampao Copper Mines, located in Monywa, Sagaing region.

When the employer refused to negotiate salary increases in May, the workers took the decision to wear red armbands as a sign of protest. Two weeks later talks between the union and the employer started, but with no agreement reached the workers continued wearing the red armbands during their shifts.

The visual protest showed result; on 14 May, miners received a 50 per cent salary increase, as well as a back payment of incorrect calculations on overtime between January 2011 and April 2013.

Garment workers using red armbands

In May, workers at the Korean owned New Way Garment Factory in Hlaingthayar Industrial Zone, Yangon, resorted to red armbands and eventually achieved a wage increase.

More than 500 trade union members at New Way Garment Factory initiated the Workers’ Red Armband Campaign. Members of the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) wore the red armbands for 17 days while working. After the factory management approached union leaders, an agreement on a basic salary increase of US$0.35 per day was signed.