Myanmar’s National Unity Government Promises to Support Striking Civil Servants

By The Irrawaddy 6 May 2021

Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow government formed to rival the military regime, said it has formed a Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) support committee to help striking government employees. The committee consists of representatives of ministries and departments formed by the NUG, said the labor minister, Nai Thuwunna. “The military council has been arresting striking government employees. Many strikers face financial hardships as they don’t receive their salaries. We have considered this,” said the minister. The NUG treats the CDM as a top priority and how to support the striking government employees has been on the agenda of every NUG meeting since the shadow government was formed on April 16, he said. While the CDM is proving to be one of the most effective forms of resistance against the regime, many striking government employees have been forced into hiding to avoid arrest for incitement, said a community-based CDM support group. Many face financial problems after losing their wages and have been forced to leave their government accommodation. A member of a CDM support group, made up of young volunteers, said: “We are providing support for over 1,700 striking government employees. But donations have declined significantly since April. We can only provide 50,000 kyats [US$32] per person. But despite the hardships, they are committed to bringing down the regime.” Civil servants’ relatives have been detained after the security forces raid striking government employees’ homes to find them in hiding. A striking health worker said: “I have been threatened with prosecution for incitement if I don’t return to work. But at the same time, we want to be given a guarantee [from the NUG] we will get our jobs back after the military regime is brought down.” The NUG said it is planning to provide salaries to striking government employees. National League for Democracy parliamentarians said in March government staff who oppress, threaten or impose unfair punishments on striking civil servants would face prosecution. They also pledged to reward strikers with a March 31 deadline for civil servants to join the CDM, warning that action would be taken against those who did not join the movement. The junta has not been able to operate the administrative duties of government properly with thousands of health workers, bankers, teachers and engineers refusing to work. Many of the government employees who went on strike against the military in 1988 were dismissed, demoted or transferred to remote areas.

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