Six workers from Tawwin Wood Finished Products Factory who staged a protest demanding salary increases and labour rights in October 2012 were convicted by Sanchaung township court in Rangoon on Friday of staging an unauthorised demonstration and ordered to either pay fines of 10,000 kyat (US$10) each or serve one month in prison with labour.
The six: Nay Lin Oo, Zin Myo Ko Ko, Tun Tun Win, Thida Aung, Zar Ei Phyu and Thin Thin Maw, were charged under Article 18 of the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law.
Nay Lin Oo, speaking to DVB by phone on Friday after the verdict, said they paid the fines but almost had to accept the jail terms because they were so broke after losing their jobs at the factory. Fortunately, he said, the civic group Former Political Prisoners Society paid their fines.
“We could not even afford to pay those fines as we are jobless and had to pay court fees over the last year while the trial went on,” he said.
The workers said they are preparing to appeal against the verdict, claiming they did not commit any crime.
“We did not violate Article 18 and so we don’t regard the verdict as fair. We are preparing to appeal to a higher court, and are prepared to take our case all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Nay Lin Oo.
After the Tawwin factory workers held a protest last year, a tribunal initially found in favour of the workers. However, a subsequent appeal by the factory owners to the Supreme Court saw the verdict overturned.
In December, a brawl broke out between the workers and their supervisors, resulting in the filing of lawsuits from both parties.