Trade unions in Myanmar call for factory closures.


On Friday, more then 1500 garments workers from 4 factories in the Dagon Seikkan Township Industrial Zone in the Yangon region Mayanmar showed demonstration to demand garments factory closure to the factory owners due to corona virus outbreak and give them paid leave. labor union leaders said in a statement.

Zar Zar Tun, a labor union leader at the Blue Diamond handbag factory, where the demonstration began in the morning, the local News media Service in Myanmar stated that, workers fear that they could become infected with the virus if they continuing working, while lockdown restrictions are in place in other areas to prevent the pathogen’s spread.

“We are now demanding to negotiate with the boss,” she said. “We are appealing to him to shut down the factory for the entire month of April and pay wages and salaries for this month. We are protesting to demand our rights that are guaranteed by law. We are being denied these rights,” he added.

“We just started the protests this morning and workers in at least four factories are participating,” Zar Zar Tun added. “We are worried for our health because of viral outbreak, but since most of us live paycheck-to-paycheck, we need our salaries.”

Workers from a garment factory in Hlaing Tharyar Township take part in a social media campaign holding signs that read, “We also have families. So please close the factory temporarily to keep us safe”. (FGWM | Supplied)

“Imagine how bad the situation would be if one of us here was infected,” said Ma Honey Oo, a worker at the Greatmen (Myanmar) Co Ltd garment factory in Bago’s Nyaung Inn Industrial Zone.

She said the factory is not overcrowded, but does not have enough space for safe social distancing between workers.

Thet Htar Swe, a leader from the Federation of Trade Unions of Burma,said The owners of the glove factory in have already told workers that they do not want to temporarily close down operations and would only pay workers for official holidays if they need to shutter the plant.

On March 25, the President’s Office issued a directive ordering half of Union-level, state, and regional government workforces to stay home to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, but told employees to be prepared to report for duty if needed.

On Friday, the Yangon government urged people to stay home during the Thingyan Buddhist New Year celebrations later this month to prevent the spread of the virus. Other regions have followed suit, telling people to shelter in place.

“We are unhappy about issuing a regional order, but it will get worse if we don’t do it,” said lawmaker Zaw Htet from Pale township in northwestern Myanmar’s Sagaing region.

“It is impossible to control [COVID-19] in all the regions and states to fight this pandemic with self-monitoring,” he added. “It will be easier to control through regional orders.”

The central government has also banned public gatherings until the end of April and threatened jail time for those who fail to report suspected COVID-19 cases.


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