Workers Left in Lurch By Overseas Employment Agency Seek Compensation

Eighteen Myanmar migrant workers are seeking additional compensation from the Perfect Company employment agency over what they say is its failure to accept responsibility for the joblessness to which they were subjected upon arriving in Thailand.

That denial is in violation of an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding (MoU), the workers and the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) said yesterday.

“We were stranded in Thailand for 70 days without getting any job,” said Ko Kyaw Soe Han, one of the migrant workers, who was forcibly returned to Myanmar in September. “We also had to live there off the donations of CSOs [civil society organisations], AAC [the Aid Alliance Committee] and Buddhist monks. The company supplied us nothing. So we are not satisfied with the agency. We want compensation for our grievances.”

He said that additionally, Perfect Company failed to meet a November 1 deadline to pay 13 days’ wages that 26 migrants worked in September, also in violation of the terms of the MoU.

“The company paid only K50,000 [US$39] to each one. Eight workers out of the 26 are satisfied with this amount, but we are not satisfied. We want to sue the company for the symbolism of it, to let the next migrants who are planning to go abroad know,” Ko Kyaw Soe Han told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

The Perfect Company has refuted the allegations of malfeasance levelled against it.

“We have already given all the money, including our agency fees, to the workers. The rest of the money is the obligation of the Thai company,” Ma Myat Thu Win, managing director of Perfect Company, said yesterday, referring to a cooperating employment agency in Thailand. “We can’t give the money in the stead of the Thai company.”

The CTUM, however, begs to differ.

“The 18 workers are not satisfied with the wages of the company. So we will report to the labour ministry to take action against the company as a first step. We have already planned to bring a suit against the company if the ministry’s actions are not suitable,” said Ko Hein Latt, assistant director of the CTUM’s migration affairs department.

The Perfect Company employment agency was supposed to send 276 workers to Thailand to work at a baking factory on a two-year contract, according to the MoU inked between the governments of Myanmar and Thailand.

But instead, the workers found themselves in Thailand stranded without jobs for more than two months. They were eventually divided into smaller groups and sent to be employed in a variety of industries, including at baked goods, electronics and jelly-processing factories.

Twenty-six of the migrant labourers, including Ko Kyaw Soe Han, were sent to a soap factory, the workers told The Myanmar Times.

The workers have also complained of working conditions in which they were required to handle chemicals that posed potential health hazards without the provision of adequate safety equipment.

Employed at the facility for less than two weeks, the labourers were sent back to the Myanmar border with the cooperation of Thai police after they asked to be transferred to a different manufacturing operation, migrant Ko Thet Naing Oo told The Myanmar Times.

Ko Hein Latt of the CTUM said Perfect Company had a responsibility to provide 75 percent of a daily wage to all the workers it sent abroad for every day they spent jobless, in accordance with the MoU’s provisions.

“This problem also concerns the agency in Thailand. They must take responsibility because they summoned the workers without any job [to offer]. But our agency also failed to solve their problems effectively,” the general secretary of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Federation, U Kyaw Zaw, told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

For the moment, the Ministry of Labour has rescinded Perfect Company’s overseas employment licence for one year, U Kyaw Zaw said, and the agency could face further punitive action from the ministry if the workers again report grievances.

 

Source: The Myanmar Times

 

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