More than 2,000 workers from four garment factories in Shwepyithar Township in Yangon marched on the streets in their township to call for salary increases and better working conditions on February 9.
Activists supporting the welfare of the workers said they will intensify their sit-in protests if employers fail to agree to the demands of the workers.
Thu Zaw Kyi Win, a protest leader, said, “We are scheduled to stage this protest for only a day. We will discuss the issue with the director-general of the Labour Department tomorrow [February 10]. But if the Ministry of Labour is unable to facilitate our demands from our employers, we will intensify our protest.”
The 11-point demands by the workers include salaries to be adjusted on a par with rates in other ASEAN countries, a reasonable minimum wage, and to be allowed to form workers unions.
The workers have reportedly been staging sit-ins at their factory compounds since January 28.
Some workers said they were asking for an additional K30,000 [US$30] plus their basic monthly salaries of K130,000, whereas others called for an additional K60,000 monthly.
The workers came from the garment factories of E-land Myanmar, Han Jen Textile and Garment, Ford Glory Garment and Costec International.
The government has yet to fix a minimum salary for the workers, although discussions with industry have been held.
The protest took place at a time when the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association just published the country’s first ever Code of Conduct for the garment industry, setting out responsible and ethical business practices for business owners. The Code of Conduct guidelines were released on February 2.