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Academics say anti-union campaign continues

Pro-union lecturers at Rangoon University are being transferred to different institutions across Burma in what the professors say is a deliberate move to undercut unions.

Rangoon University Lecturers’ Union member Kyaw Than Moe  said the union will continue to stand despite the transfers and is looking to appoint new leaders.

“The union will continue,” said  Kyaw Than Moe, who is being transferred to Arakan state. “They will appoint new Executive Committee members, while [former] Mandalay [University Lecturers’ Union] chair U Thet Lwin and I will be forming a lecturers’ union in Sittwe.”

Rangoon University Lecturers’ Union chair Okka Mya is set to move to Bhamo University in Kachin state while Sein Mi Mi, Kyaw Than Moe and Zaw Myo Htun were transferred to universities in Tenasserim’s Dawei, Arakan’s Sittwe and Pegu’s Taungoo respectively, according to Kyaw Than Moe.

In November, leading members of the University Lecturers’ Union in Mandalay were transferred to several institutions across Burma in what they claim was a deliberate move by education officials who dislike unions.

The move appears to undercut recent legislation that overturned former statutes that prevented the legal establishment of unions.

The enactment of the Labour Organisation Bill earlier this year brought an end to the draconian 1962 Trade Unions Act that effectively banned all trade unions in the country. Burmese workers can now legally go on strike, with the proviso that if they work in the private sector they give three days notice, and if in a public utility, 14 days.

The bill allows for the formation of unions with a minimum size of 30 people, which members can join or leave of their own desire. Workers can legally go on strike and protest for workers’ rights as long as it does not block transport or security infrastructure.


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