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Thai wood industry in crisis, Myanmar workers in trouble

Myanmar workers in the wood industry in southern Thailand are in serious trouble due to lack of orders from China, which is the major market for its products, Myanmar Embassy officials in Thailand said.

“Currently, we manage to keep control of the workers not to cause big problem. We also solved some misunderstanding between the workers and the factories,” labour attaché U San Maung Oo told The Myanmar Times.

According to workers and migrant rights groups, Myanmar wood factory workers are facing crisis, just like their employers as they have not much work, which results in decrease in their incomes.

“We have no regular job since we reached here. Now, we have a little income which is just enough for our living here. We couldn’t send back any money to our families,” said Ko Kyaw Myo Oo, a migrant who is working for a wood factory in southern Thailand, near the Malaysian border.

He also said that he has been employed at the factory under the Memorandum of Understanding and about 160 Myanmar workers are working at the factory.

All the documents of the workers have been kept by the factory officials, Ko Kyaw Myo Oo added, so they could not find other jobs to increase their earnings.

Ko Lay Lay Zaw, information officer of the Myanmar Worker Protection Committee of southern Thailand, said that many wood production factories are facing a crisis, small and big manufacturers alike.

At the moment, there are four wood production factories that are facing labour disputes related to the slowdown in their production as a result of lack of orders from China.

“These factories couldn’t give full time jobs to their workers since China has stopped posting orders for their products,” Ko Lay Lay Zaw said.

On May 14, the Myanmar Embassy in Thailand cautioned workers of wood production factories in Kingdom to report and ask for help from the embassy if disputes arise between workers and factories related to the slowdown in wood production.

The announcement also said that all workers must be compensated according to the laws of Thailand when wood production factories close for any reason.

Labour attaché U San Maung Oo said that they have been helping all Myanmar workers by cooperating with Thai Labour Department officials to ensure that they are properly compensated in case they are retrenched.

According to the embassy statement, Thai wood production factories are facing trouble with the Chinese market because some wood production owners in China who mainly buy semi-processed products from Thai factories, have stopped operations.

Source : Myanmar Times

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