About 150 workers at Panda textile and garment factory in Hlaing Tharyar township, Yangon Region, held a protest after management threatened not to rehire them if they do not sign an employment contract.
Daw Zar Zar Latt, an official of the factory labour union, said most of the workers refuse to sign the contract because some of its terms and conditions were not discussed first with the union and are unfair to the workers.
“The workers don’t have houses since the factory was transferred from the government to private ownership. According to the contract, we have to move out if we are sacked,” said Daw Zar Zar Latt.
She said they refused to sign the contract because they want the one they signed when the factory was still managed by the government.
The protesters want the factory to re-hire workers who were sacked, to stop the factory owner’s actions that are deemed illegal, and to take action against the owner for breaking the law.
The factory used to be run by the government as Paleik No. 2 Factory, but in 2012, the government privatised it. In March 2016, Panda won a long-term lease for K360 million (US$248,618) a year from the Myanmar Investment Commission.
The factory issued a notice to workers on July 20 that the government instigated the new employment contract not the company, said factory general manager Daw Tin Tin Shwe.
“For nearly six months we have been trying to convince the workers to sign the contract. We want them to have equal rights. The rules were set in cooperation with the factory coordination committee. Out of 1000 workers, about 600 signed the contract, which has 21 terms and conditions,” said Daw Tin Tin Shwe.
She said the workers’ demands are against the law, and any actions by the company were taken after consulting with the government, she said.
“We dismissed four workers only after we warned them many times that they weren’t following the rules. Some of the protesters don’t know the rules so we will explain them patiently,” Daw Tin Tin Shwe said.