Burma

Workers and Farmers to Run in Myanmar’s 2020 Election to Promote Rights

By Aung Thiha 6 February 2020

Yangon – Workers and farmers say they will contest the 2020 general election as independent candidates in order to better promote and protect their rights.

Ten civil society organizations, including the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) and Myanmar Infrastructure, Craft and Service (MICS), as well as labor rights defenders held a press conference in Yangon on Wednesday to unveil the election campaign.

The independent candidates will contest seats in both houses of the Union Parliament and in Hlaing Tharyar Township in the Yangon regional parliament. The township houses the largest industrial zone and migrant population in Myanmar, according to CTUM president U Maung Maung.

The National League for Democracy had largely ignored the rights of farmers and workers in amending labor and farmland laws since taking office in 2016, said U Maung Maung. And lawmakers had not done enough to improve their constituencies, he said.

“It is important that lawmakers take the lead role in improving their constituencies, bearing in mind the requirements of their constituents. Those who are committed to labor issues will contest the election,” he said.

Six candidates had been chosen for the November general election in Hlaing Tharyar and they would be announced in March, the press conference was told.

There is no plan to establish a party and the candidates would only serve as independent representatives of trade unions and labor and farmer organizations, said labor rights lawyer U Htay.

“We will run to promote the voices of laborers and workers in Parliament,” he said.

“Although the workers and farmers voted enthusiastically in the hope of change, we have found few parliamentarians want to represent us, both in the current and previous parliaments,” said assistant secretary U Nay Lin Aung of the MICS.

Lawmakers had always ignored the recommendations made by labor organizations and federations to amend labor laws, he said. This was the main reason labor rights activists were planning to run in November, U Nay Lin Aung added.

An election campaigning committee, support group and admin team had been formed for the candidates to contest the poll, said labor organizations.

For the time being, they only plan to contest Hlaing Tharyar Township but they are also likely to contest in other seats, said the labor organizations.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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