Leaders of a mass strike at the Han Jen garment factory have continued talks with factory bosses, continuing to lobby for the demands of picketing workers who have been staging a sit-in and symbolic hunger strikes outside the factory gates since Monday.
The protest in Shwepyitha Industrial Zone-1 began on 18 September, but workers moved to begin a hunger strike on 5 October when negotiations failed to reach a conclusion. The labour leaders and factory representatives are meeting at the Dispute Settlement Arbitration Council office in Rangoon.
The workers are demanding: the reintroduction of their ‘additional allowances’ (assumed to be overtime, and transport and meal stipends) after the government adopted a 3,600 kyat (US$2.80) daily minimum wage; the reinstatement of sacked factory labour union leaders; and that company bosses to stop forcing workers to sign blank papers.
The aggrieved workers, a majority of whom are women, sent a formal letter of complaint to a special Ministry of Labour tribunal. However, a Rangoon divisional labour minister denied the strike was ongoing when contacted by DVB on Tuesday.
“As far as I know, the issues at Han Jen have been resolved following successful negotiations assisted by mediation groups – the ongoing strike is just a rumour and is not really taking place,” he said. “People are just making wild guesses after seeing workers gathering outside the factory when they show up for work. There is a group of people who want to see the protests really happen – they make a living out of creating unrest and it is their doing.”
Read more about the Han Jen hunger strike here.