South Korean shoe manufacturer Master Sports has been ordered by a Rangoon court to compensate more than 750 factory workers who were suddenly laid off in June.
A former employee of the company, Tun Tun Naing, told DVB on Wednesday that the Rangoon Division Labour Tribunal decided in favour of the dismissed workers, ordering Master Sports to pay severance of three months salary plus full payment for the month of June.
“The tribunal decided that the factory must provide severance equal to three months of pay plus the June salary for workers who were employed for more than one year. For those who have worked there for three to ten months, the company must pay the June salary and two months beyond that,” Tun Tun Naing said.
A deadline for the payment has not been set, but will be determined by the township-level labour department.
Tun Tun Naing said that workers met with Burma’s minister of labour on Saturday, who assured them that the ministry has summoned the factory owner to appear in a Burmese court.
The whereabouts of the company’s owner and his affiliates are currently unknown, as they left the country shortly after shutting down the factory on 26 June.
The factory’s employees, who claim they were not given advance notice of the closure, received assistance from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security to seek legal recourse. The ministry eventually brokered a deal through with the help of the South Korean embassy whereby the company agreed to offer one month’s pay as severance; however only 56 of the 755 dismissed workers accepted the package.
Workers protested at the South Korean embassy in July, demanding more compensation. They later claimed the company had coerced some employees into signing predatory agreements relinquishing severance.
The case is thought to be the first ever instance of Burma’s Ministry of Labour bringing a lawsuit against a company on behalf of workers.