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Rangoon textile workers hit the streets

Workers in Shwepyithar Industrial Zone have taken to the streets after staging a prolonged factory sit-in (Photo: DVB)

Hundreds of workers marched the streets in Rangoon’s Shwepyithar Industrial Zone on Monday morning to demand better pay and working conditions.

The employees came from five garment factories: Ford Glory Garment, Costec International, E-land Myanmar Garment, Red Stone Garment and Han Jen Textile and Garment. The workers marched out of their factory compounds where they have been staging a sit-in since 28 January.

“We are marching around Shwepyithar and we plan to assemble in protest camps in front of the police station if we do not reach negotiations on our demands in one week,” said Thein Moe Lwin, a factory worker in the march.

The demands of the workers include a basic salary increase; permission to form labour unions and to set up a labour office in their workplace; days off on public holidays; paid medical leave; and the issuing of welfare cards for all workers.

Since the relaxation of stringent laws on labour unions since President Thein Sein took power in 2011, allowing the formation of trade unions in Burma for the first time in half a century, the country has seen increased industrial action as workers demand more pay and better conditions. In 2012 strikes spread from Rangoon to Mandalay after originating at a factory sit-in by textile workers.