Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Labour dispute referred to minimum-wage fixing committee

Minimum-wage legislation has left us worse off, say workers at a wood-products factory in Mandalay Region. They say the management of the Kan Kaung Chin Yadanar factory in Bal Lin village, Singu township, is asking them to do more work for less money than before the law came into force.

Since the K3600 daily minimum wage was introduced last September, workers at a number of factories have complained that management has cut benefits or otherwise reducing labour costs, violating the spirit of the law.

In a press conference jointly organised by the Cooperative Committee for Trade Unions (CCTU) and workers at the Kan Kaung Chin Yadanar factory on January 10, the workers and CCTU officials said they were complaining to the National Minimum Wage Fixing Committee about what they called a violation of the minimum-wage law.

“Since the minimum wage was fixed, companies have been trying to reduce labour costs by paying minimum rates for those who are sacked, and imposing unfair wage cuts or dismissals. The authorities should do more to enforce the law,” said CCTU member Ko Tun Tun Naing.

“The Kan Kaung Chin Yadanar factory is a case in point. We will submit a formal complaint letter to the minimum-wage committee and take all other possible measures under the law,” he added.

About 200 workers are expected to sign the complaint. Since September 2015, when the law came into force, the factory has been cutting wages, said workers, who say they now get paid about half their previous rates.

“Our wages have been cut, but we have to do more work now. Before we had to saw 2500 sheets of wood, but now we have to saw 3500 sheets. Our livelihood has become more difficult,” said worker Ko Hay Ko Ko Maung.

Three rounds of negotiations have been conducted at the township dispute resolution office. Workers said the company had refused to revise wages because they were acting under 2013 labour laws.

Factory management representative Ko Aung Kyaw Kyaw told The Myanmar Times, “As a wood products factory, we are dependent on how much raw material we can acquire. The company has about 2500 workers, and must continue to meet the wage bill, which is a burden.”

 Translation by Zar Zar Soe