Burmese Garment Workers Protest Over Wages

By Saw Yan Naing 6 August 2013

Dozens of Burmese garment workers have been barred from returning to work after calling on their employer to pay them 70,000 kyats (US$70) monthly, as promised.

The 35 garment workers at Delta Industrial Group (DIG) in Irrawaddy Division stopped showing up for work last Friday, as an act of protest against their employer’s decision to pay them only 60,000 kyats monthly. When they attempted to return to their factory in the town of Panthein on Tuesday, the company said they could not yet resume their jobs because a decision had not been made over the wages.

“They didn’t pay us according to the agreement,” said Myat Thida, one of the employees.

Protesting workers said they had been trying to meet with their employers since Monday without success and worried they could lose their jobs.

A manager at the factory, Ohmar, told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that the company’s board committee had not yet responded to or made a decision over the workers’ demands. She said the board members were currently busy hosting foreign guests and did not have time at the moment to meet with the protesting employees.

According to the contract, the workers were supposed to receive 60,000 kyats monthly plus an additional bonus of 10,000 kyats for good attendance. The protesting workers, who say they did not miss any work prior to last Friday, were not given the bonus.

The workers are also calling on DIG to pay for overtime work and to stop cutting their wages if they miss a day due to illness.

Ohmar, the manager, said the workers were demanding 70,000 kyats in total per month.

DIG in Pathein town was established in July this year. It currently has about 170 employees.

The Irrawaddy correspondent in Pathein, Salai Thant Sin, also contributed to this report.