Rangoon Hair Factory Strikers Win Wage Hike

By Nyein Nyein 10 May 2012

Striking employees at an artificial hair factory in Rangoon’s Industrial Zone 4 were granted their demands for a wage hike as well as increased workers’ rights on Thursday.

More than 1,800 staff at HI Mo High Art factory walked out over demands for increased pay on Wednesday. They then marched to the Labor Office in Mayangone Tonwship and expressed their wishes to officials there.

An agreement was reached after seven workers’ representatives along with Managing Director Nan Tao Yin and Director-General Win Shein of the factory held a meeting at the Labor Law Administrative office in Hlaing Thar Yar Township on Thursday.

Ya Min Lwin, a female worker representative, told The Irrawaddy that, “all of our demands have been agreed to after negotiations at 2 pm today.”

“We will be able to decide whether to work overtime or not, which in the past we did not have a choice about,” she added. “The factory also agreed not to cut the water and electricity for workers as before.”

In the agreement the workers will also receive daily pay, overtime pay and ferry allowance as usual.

The workers demanded a pay raise from 8,000 kyat (US $9.6) to 30,000 kyat ($36.3) per month. In addition, they wanted overtime pay, a clean working environment, sanitary meals and action to be taken against bad supervisors.

Workers only receive 78 kyat ($0.09) for overtime and must work from 5 pm to 9 pm.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday morning, May Phyu Win, who came to work at the factory from a rural area and so lives in the building, said, “We are provided with unclean meals in the factory every day. Sometimes there were even worms in the vegetables curries so the workers would suffer diarrhea regularly.”

“The supervisors at the factory treat us badly, and we cannot even talk on phone in the case of an emergency,” she added.

The workers had already demanded a salary raise last year but the protest was not serious enough at the time and their demands were unsuccessful. A worker said, “In April 2011, similar demands for a wage hike happened, but at that time we were put in a locked room inside the factory after they told us that they will solve the matter.”

The factory is owned by a Korean businessman with products exported to South Korea, Japan, China and, occasionally, the Philippines.

In similar industrial action, workers at the Myanmar Winery & Distillery Co. Ltd factory in Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone demanded a salary raise on Tuesday, but had still not reached an agreement at the time of publication.