Anger at 'discrimination' as Thai workers get perks, higher wages
Local workers say they face discrimination while working at the Dawei Special Economic Zone – and get a fraction of the wage and none of the perks that Thai employees get for similar work.
“We are always facing discrimination one way or another in the workplace. For the salary, a Myanmar worker only receives 5,500 kyat per day while a Thai worker receives over 20,000 kyat per day even for a driver. We are doing the same work, but the salary difference is very high,” Ko Saw, a local worker at the Dawei site, said.
“We have to work from 7am to 5pm. The overtime pay is 1,000 kyat per hour. We have to work overtime almost every day. Myanmar workers in Thailand get 300 baht [per day minimum wage; or 10,000 kyat] so we want our salaries to be around that figure. When we receive our salaries, our overtime hours have disappeared,” he said.
Ko Saw said local workers living at the workers’ housing have to pay for electricity and water while Thai workers are exempted from this.
Zaw Hein, another worker from the Dawei project, said Thai workers received better housing with private bathrooms and air conditioners,which local workers did not enjoy.
“The company hired a chef for the Thai workers and they get free meals but Myanmar workers don’t receive any meal money,” Zaw Hein said. The company undertaking the project has to make contracts with Myanmar workers once they do a three-month probation period but the firm has neglected to get such contracts signed.
“I’ve been working here for nearly 2 years. The company is supposed to make a contract after completing my three-month probation, but they still haven’t done this. I only receive something over 4,000 kyat per day, and I have to work from 6am to 5pm,” Zaw Hein said.
“Thai workers speak rudely to Myanmar workers, who don’t understand Thai. But they don’t dare to say that to those who understand Thai. Also, Myanmar workers are not given personal protective equipment for work safety,” he said.
A local engineer only receives 150,000 kyat per month while a Thai engineer receives 200,000 baht (600,000 kyat) a month as a minimum salary, local workers say.
Currently, there are over 2,000 local workers and 1,000 Thai workers at the Dawei Special Economic Zone project.
Local workers say the authorities have failed to take any action against Thai workers when local workers submit complaints.
The Dawei Special Economic Zone is being developed by the Italian-Thai Development Co, but there is speculation it may pull out of the project after its contract ends due to financial difficulties and doubts about the project’s viability in the short-term.