Workers from five factories under Sin Min Cement Industry Co., owned by Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL), in the Kyaukse township of Mandalay Region claim to be oppressed and discriminated against following disputes over wages and other working conditions.
The company, which is jointly run by MEHL (60 percent) and Shwe Cement Co., Ltd (40pc) since 2013, own three plastic factories, the Taw Win Plastic Factory and Sanda Machinery spare parts manufacturing factory.
On April 10, more than 200 workers from these five factories staged a demonstration with five demands regarding worker rights, as well as for their annual bonuses to be paid out, said U Nyi Nyi Aung, the worker leader from Sin Min Cement factory.
“There has been no transparency since the joint venture being started.
“There are daily wage earners who have served for many years at the factory and they have not been employed as permanent workers. But there are workers, who are patronised by them [factory officials], who have been employed as permanent workers,” U Nyi Nyi Aung told The Myanmar Times.
He said that even though MEHL had instructed for workers to be paid their one-month wages along with K30,000 as an annual bonus in April, factory owners had withheld all payments.
“Factory officials said that we would be given just 60pc of our one-month wage. In doing so, bonus for a worker for a year will be just K30,000. That’s why we protest,” he said.
Other demands included equal treatment among workers, safer workplace conditions, converting long-term service workers to become permanent workers and transparency in transferring workers from one factory to another.
“Factory owners need to abide by the existing laws concerning workers and employers if they establish a factory.
“Both employers and labourers are citizens. Although employers give benefits to the labourers, there is still oppression on the ground,” said U Saw Hla Aung from the Worker Union’s Cooperation Committee.
– Translation by Win Thaw Tar