A total of 300 Myanmar migrants working at INDEX, a motorcycle helmet factory in Bangkok, went on strike to demand better working conditions and rights, said Thai-based migrants rights organisation Aid Alliance Committee (AAC) yesterday.

“The 300 Myanmar workers have had their labour rights violated by the employers. A Myanmar worker was accused of being involved in a fire at the factory and was fired. So, all the other Myanmar workers launched a strike, demanding for their rights to be upheld,” AAC member Ko Ye Min told The Myanmar Times.

He also said that the workers made 10 demands, including to be allowed to take six days of casual leave in a year – which is compulsory under Thai labour laws – and for salaries not to be cut when sick leave is taken.

Workers also demanded to be paid back K200 million which was deducted from their salaries by factory officials supposedly for an emergency fund for workers. They also demanded to be issued original work permits, instead of photocopies.

Another demand was for the factory to prepare first aid material at the premises, and for workers to be allowed to work after taking leave.

According to the AAC, workers complained that those who took sick leave were “punished” by being barred from coming back to work for a period of three days, during which time they were not paid.

Ko Ye Min said that the factory also used to ask workers to work overtime every Saturday without getting paid.

The Myanmar workers were also told to use brokers assigned by the factory to apply for their passports and work documents. These brokers, they claim, charged a higher interest than others.

The strike, which began early on February 22, ended on the evening of the same day after factory officials agreed to most of the demands following mediation by the AAC, Myanmar embassy officials and Thai labour department officials.

“The factory acceded to most of the worker’s demands, and all workers accepted and called off the strike in the evening,” said Ko Ye Min.

“The factory officials had to agree to the demands after they were investigated by several labour rights groups including the Thai army because they really have violated their rights,” he said.

There are more than 300 workers at the INDEX motorcycle helmet factory, including the 300 Myanmar migrants who are holding pink cards and temporary passports.

The factory’s manufacturing processes were stopped for the whole evening on February 22 because of the strike, and workers resumed work on February 23 with no problems, according to the AAC.

The Myanmar Times could not reach the Myanmar Embassy yesterday for their comments about the INDEX worker disputes.

More than 10,000 Myanmar workers go to Thailand monthly for job prospects. By Zaw Zaw Htwe

Source: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/25073-myanmar-workers-in-thailand-go-on-strike-for-labour-rights.html

The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.