Friday, August 18, 2017

Dismissals at agricultural machinery factory spark protest

Workers from an agriculture machinery factory at 9 Mile in Yangon Region staged a protest against the Young Investment Group Industry Co Ltd (YIG) yesterday morning, claiming the company had fired nearly all of its employees without cause.

Labourers fired from an agricultural machinery factory in Yangon protest their dismissal at Bo Sein Hman field in Tarmwe township yesterday. Photo: Zarni Phyo / The Myanmar TimesLabourers fired from an agricultural machinery factory in Yangon protest their dismissal at Bo Sein Hman field in Tarmwe township yesterday. Photo: Zarni Phyo / The Myanmar Times

About 100 workers and their supporters gathered at Bo Sein Hman field for a three-hour demonstration against the YIG that lasted until noon. Participants said the company in question, which inherited the previously state-run factory when it was transferred by the government into private hands in 2013, had not honoured the terms of its contract with employees by gradually terminating all but six of the 69 workers employed at the time of the transfer.

According to U Myint Lwin Oo, who led the protest as one of the workers who saw his pay change from government wage to private salary in 2013, said although the company had been authorised to take over production at the factory, since its transfer three years ago the facility remained essentially idle.

“When they transferred the factory in 2013, the labour ministry, the YIG company and labour [representatives] held a discussion and made the contract, but now they are not following the contract and the ministry is neglecting it,” he said. “Besides, those workers for whom it is possible to be transferred back into government [employment] have been pressured to go back. And those for whom it is not possible to go back are being fired.”

The YIG is a multinational firm established in 1998, operating 16 principle subsidiaries in Myanmar, China and Singapore, according to its website. The agriculture machinery factory is one of its holdings in Myanmar’s manufacturing sector.

“We will continue to proceed if nothing changes after our protest and we will try our best to be in line with the law,” U Myint Lwin Oo said of the workers’ plan going forward. “We have already informed the ministry but they neither replied to us nor investigated the company. The last time we informed them was in April.”

He told The Myanmar Times that the protesters had also sent a letter to the Yangon Region parliament through Daw Moe Moe Su Kyi (NLD; Mayangone 2), a sitting MP in the legislature.

“I put forward their letter in the parliament on July 14 but nothing has so far been discussed,” Daw Moe Moe Su Kyi said.

“The workers are being unfairly treated by the employer and also the government. We can’t stand for it, so we are here to help our friends,” said Daw Win Theingi Soe, a member of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar. “We will continue to help them until they succeed.”

Ma Aye Myat Maw, one of the workers on the payroll at the time of the factory’s transfer, said, “The main thing is the company didn’t follow the principles of the contract. Why isn’t the [labour] ministry investigating the company? I want the ministry to take action against them. I also want stability with my job.”

She told The Myanmar Times that she had been employed at the factory since 2013 but was fired on July 12, with no legitimate reason for her dismissal provided.

“We want to help our friends get their jobs back,” said Ko Chit Ko Ko, who joined the protest together with six co-workers from Shwe Tun Company. “We will continue to help them until the end.”