Former employees of the South Korean-owned Master Sports footwear factory, which abruptly closed down last month, staged a protest outside the Republic of Korea embassy in Rangoon on Thursday demanding compensation.
Based in Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone in western Rangoon, the sportswear factory, allegedly without prior notice, announced its closure on 26 June, leaving 755 employees jobless, though staff said the management promised to pay them compensation.
However, after the firm folded without paying its staff, Burma’s Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Welfare stepped in on 10 July by writing a letter to the South Korean embassy which, in turn, mediated a solution whereby the company agreed to pay the employees their June salaries.
However, only 56 of the workers agreed to accept the one-month salary payment; the rest demanded additional compensation.
On 17 July, the factory workers held a march from the industrial zone at Hlaing Tharyar across five townships to the South Korean embassy – with official permission from the police – to demand full compensation.
“We want our June salaries and a severance package as per the law,” said protest leader Tun Naing, adding that the workers additionally wanted to highlight the regular abuse of labour rights by South Korean investors in the country.
“When investing in our country, foreign companies have to conform to local regulations,” he said. “But what the company did was completely negligent.
“The company did not inform us about the closure in advance, they just shut it down, and they did not pay staff salaries for the month of June,” he added. “They were aware of their obligation to pay compensation but ignored the law.”
The South Korean embassy in Rangoon was unavailable for comment.