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Sumec workers vow to protest until wage demands met

Apr 09. 2015
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By Myanmar Eleven

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Disgruntled workers from the Sumec garment factory in Yaytarshay township, Yayni City, Bago Region, will continue with their strike until their demands for a basic salary of Ks 60,000 per month are met.

The garment workers currently receive a basic salary of between Ks 15,000 and Ks 35,000. They decided to strike when the Union parliament approved a bill to increase public servants' basic salaries to Ks 120,000 per month.

“The lowest salary is US$15 and the highest is US$35. The government promised an increase. Our salary was raised by only 20 US cents. We demonstrate because of this,” said worker Yin Swe.

On April 4, the workers issued a total of 13 demands, including not enforcing overtime without the employee’s agreement, to get paid a day before the last day of the month if it falls on a holiday, to arrange a ferry if an eight-hour-overtime shift is completed, to cut the pay only for one day if someone is absent for a day, to increase the break time to 20 minutes, to double the overtime rate if it is an official holiday, to pay double on Sunday overtime and to give them the chance to leave for various reasons.

The workers met the company’s management on April 6 but their demands were not met.

About 700 workers gathered at the project, claiming that they lost their rights when the factory was privatised and shifted from producing paper and household goods to clothing.

“We will continue protesting until we get the wage amount we asked for. The factory manager Khin Maung Aye said to us that not even 6 kyats will be increased, let alone 60,000. If they would prefer to shut down the factory rather than increase our salaries, that is up to them. As for us, we will keep m going until all workers receive the appropriate amount,” said labour leader Pyae Sone.

The workers in the factory mainly hail from nearby villages and rural areas.

They joined the factory under 3-year contracts, and the company confiscated their NRC cards. If a worker decides to leave while still under the contract, the company fined that person Ks 500,000.

Official working hours are 7am to 4pm, but many workers work until 8pm daily to earn an additional overtime rate of Ks 200 per hour. The factory prohibits leaves of absence and fines workers Ks 3,000 per day of absence.

“My daughter has been working there for two years. Her salary still remains at Ks 30,000 per day. If she gets sick, they do not give her leave. Instead, they make her pay a fine,” said a mother of a factory worker.



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