Talks Fail, Sagaing Labor Protestors Resume March to Naypyidaw

By Zarni Mann 12 May 2016

MANDALAY — Protestors from a plywood factory in the Sagaing Industrial Zone resumed their march to Naypyidaw on Thursday, following five days of negotiations in the capital and Wundwin Township, where they rested, with no results.

The workers said negotiations between the protestors, the factory and the Ministry of Labor did not fulfill their demands, and so they have continued their march in an attempt to meet with President Htin Kyaw.

During last week’s meeting at the Ministry of Labor, authorities agreed to re-employ and compensate 60 protestors who were previously fired, take action against any company found flouting labor rights laws, and not sue the workers who continue to protest.

However, the workers did not get a copy of the agreement and found themselves lacking proof of these pledges.

“[The authorities and the company] did not give us any assurances or tell us when they would finalize the agreement,” said Khaing Min, a worker who represented the group during talks in Naypyidaw.

“By the end of the meeting, the authorities had not given us a clear solution or timeline for what we had agreed to. We felt insecure and had no guarantee for our rights or job security,” he added.

On Monday morning, protestors who had been resting in Wundwin Township, in Mandalay Division, resumed their march.

“We have no other choice. We need to meet with President Htin Kyaw. He is the only person who will handle the dispute fairly,” said Hnin Aung, a protestor.

Dozens of workers from Myanmar Veneer Plywood Private Ltd. began their march from Sagaing Division to Naypyidaw two weeks ago to demand workers’ rights. They have asked the factory to reduce their daily work hours from 12 to eight and to re-employ workers who had been fired following an initial protest.