Factory Workers End Strike

By Nyein Nyein 6 June 2012

Employees of the Hi Mo High Art wig factory and five other factories in Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone returned to work on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with management late Tuesday night.

The agreement, which comes nearly a month after workers at the Hi Mo factory first walked off the job to demand higher wages and improved working conditions, is the second since the labor dispute began.

“This is just a temporary agreement to end the current crisis until a minimum wage has been set by Parliament,” said Ko Ko Gyi, a leader of the 88 Generation Students group who was present when the agreement was signed.

“We are encouraging the workers to form a union to continue working for their basic labor rights and to make their demands for a minimum wage,” he added.

Two workers’ representatives and the Korean manager of the Hi Mo factory signed the agreement in the presence of Ko Ko Gyi, Deputy Labor Minister Myint Thein and activist lawyer U Htay, according to the labor activist Nanna Sit Aung.

Under the agreement, the workers will receive a monthly salary of 29,700 kyat (US $35). With overtime pay, allowances and bonuses, workers in junior positions can earn up to 56,700 ($67.50) a month, while experienced workers will be paid more.

“In addition to the agreed-to wages, workers will no longer be subjected to verbal insults and will be allowed to refuse overtime work and take Sundays off,” said labor activist Han Win Aung.

Workers at the Hi Mo factory resumed their strike on May 17, a week after an deal was reached to end a walkout that started on May 9. The owners of the company refused to honor that agreement, prompting a second round of labor action.

Meetings continued at five other factories on Wednesday, with one reaching an agreement early in the day.