On August 29, as many as 4,000 workers in Myanmar’s Hlaing Thar district and around 600 in Kyauk Tan district demonstrated for the implementation of newly revised laws on the settlement of labor disputes. Clad in red and chanting pro-worker slogans, they also demanded the reinstatement of two union leaders, Kyi Thi and Shane Thu, who were dismissed for setting up a labor organization in June.
Workers from 50 factories congregated at different places and moved towards the western part of Yangon city, registering their protest over the lack of implementation of the amended law, which was passed three months ago.
In the revised law on settling labor disputes, which comes under Article 23 of Myanmar’s constitution, a dispute between an employer and a workers can be handled by the labor department or the court. In the erstwhile dispute settlement mechanism, a ‘township conciliation body’ acted as the mediator.
Khaing Zar, president of the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar, said that workers’ rights were being violated. “We have exhausted all institutional channels, like the labor department, the township conciliation body, and the ministry of labor, but the government is turning a deaf ear to this serious violation of workers’ rights,” he told IndustriALL.
“Workers associated with Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar are calling on the government to enforce the amendment of the law and recognize workers’ right to organize and form a union,” he added.
The workers also condemned the dismissal of Kyi Thi and Shane Thu from Prosperity Knitting factory, claiming that the authorities had used unfair means to punish the workers for speaking out against the diktats of the management.