Myanmar Workers at International Joint-Venture Construction Site Strike for Unpaid Wages

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 19 January 2021

Yangon – Hundreds of construction workers at the Yoma Central development projects are on strike, blocking a major Yangon road over late payment of wages and unpaid social-security allowances.

In 2015 Singapore-listed Yoma Strategic Holdings Limited, headed by Serge Pun, received approval from the Myanmar Investment Commission for the redevelopment of a four-hectare site on Bogyoke Aung San Road, including restoring the 1877 Burma Railways Headquarters.

In 2017 the firm signed an agreement with two global construction companies to build two integrated housing developments, Yoma Central and the Peninsula Yangon, including turning the rail headquarters into a luxury hotel. The budget for the two projects is about US$400 million (533 billion kyats).

The Yoma Central project is being built by BTJV Myanmar company, a joint venture between Dragages Singapore Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Bouygues Construction, and Japan’s Taisei Corporation.

The Peninsula Yangon project is being implemented by BYMA, a joint venture between Dragages Singapore and Yoma Strategic.

On Tuesday, several hundred BYMA employees blocked Bogyoke Aung San Road after the company failed to pay weekly wages for a third time, according to the strikers.

The company failed to pay the wages on Jan. 5 and weekly wages were not paid on Jan.12, they said.

Workers said the strike was held after full wages were not paid on Tuesday.

They also said social security allowances were not paid although workers had been taxed by the government each month.

Myanmar’s government promised workers registered with the authorities a social-security net of 40 percent of their salaries during the COVID-19 lockdown when work stopped.

“We want our wages on time. Everyone is waiting for their wages. Some workers cannot pay their bills,” Ko Lin Lin Tun, a BYMA construction worker, told The Irrawaddy.

However, the protest ended on Tuesday evening after BYMA and the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population promised all unpaid social security allowances and wages will be paid by Jan. 26.

BYMA could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

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