Labor Rights Negotiations Fail with Mandalay Textile Factory

By Zarni Mann 9 January 2017

MANDALAY — Negotiations on labor rights between employees and textile factory management in Mandalay Division’s Paleik Township were canceled before demands were met, according to the workers.

Although most of the worker demands were agreed to, the company refused to reappoint four workers who had been fired for protesting, which is why the negotiations were canceled.

“We were about to sign an agreement but the company refused to reappoint four protest leaders, which the UMFCCI [Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry] and a labor rights judge instructed them to do,” said Zarchi Win, a representative of the protesters.

During the final minutes of negotiations, the company also said it would need to reconsider new rules and regulations regarding salary, working hours and accommodation, according to the workers.

“Everything was agreed upon but the company refused to sign at the last minute. The negotiation team showed their disappointment,” she added.

The regional government’s negotiation team said the case goes against the decision of the team and it will not handle future negotiations.

“We’ve done our best for both parties but the agreements were not met. We will not negotiate further, which we will report to the regional government and Naypyidaw,” said U Zarni Aung, Mandalay regional minister of construction and electrical power, who took part as a negotiator.

The textile factory, operated by the Ministry of Industry, was handed over in 2013 to Panda—a private textile company, which prompted protests after laborers said their rights were abused during the transition of ownership.

More than 600 workers took part in the protests and four of them were fired. Two workers died due to bad health while at the sit-in protest camp in front of the factory in early 2015.

At the end of 2015, the Mandalay regional government formed a negotiation team and negotiated between Panda and the laborers for around two months.