Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Machine factory fires back at protesters

A Machine factory at 9 Mile in Yangon is accusing protesters of defamation, claiming many of the demonstrators that had gathered over the weekend do not even work at the company.

Officials from Young Investment Group Industry Co Ltd hold a press conference at Sedona Hotel, Yangon, on August 9. ( Zaw Zaw Htwe / The Myanmar TimesOfficials from Young Investment Group Industry Co Ltd hold a press conference at Sedona Hotel, Yangon, on August 9. ( Zaw Zaw Htwe / The Myanmar Times

About 100 demonstrators had assembled at Bo Sein Hman field in Tarmwe township on August 7, claiming Young Investment Group Industry Co Ltd (YIG) had not honoured its contract when the factory privatised in 2013.

The factory management disputes the account. As a part of that contract, they took on 38 government employees under three-year contracts. Those contracts are expired now, company officials said, and the workers have refused various assignments.

“Not all protesters work at our company,” Daw Nann Saw Htwe, a director at the company, said at a press conference at Sedona Hotel on August 9.

“The six protesters led by U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo no longer work for us. They refuse to return to the government department they came from. And we have already fired the 17 workers led by U Myint Lwin Oo for failing to sign their new employee contracts,” she added.

Those six workers were reassigned to the Department of Agricultural Mechanisation after the expiration of their contract but they are resisting the transfer, company officials said.

The other 17 workers were asked to continue working at the company but they want to keep the public contracts they had been operating under when they were government employees. They refused to sign the new contract and so they were let go.

At the August 7 demonstration, workers led by U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo and U Myint Lwin Oo protested the contract feud, and were joined by about 80 union members from other factories, demanding full salaries, stability and guaranteed job opportunities for the workers who were transferred from the government department to the private company.

They also asked the government to cut ties with YIG, claiming it broke its contract with the government. They demanded an investigation into the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, which they say failed to take action against the company.

The six workers who do not want to leave YIG were given letters offering to transfer them back to the Department of Agricultural Mechanisation but they have refused the change and are now protesting in order to defame the company, company officials said.

The other 17 were fired with compensation and in accordance with labour laws, YIG’s Daw Nann Saw Htwe said, because they did not sign their new contract and have failed to obey company rules.

“We’ve never failed to pay wages to our labourers or taxes to the government,” she said. “We have no responsibility to pay the six workers because they are no longer our workers, according to the by-laws of government staff. We stopped compensating the other 17 workers after we reported them to the labour department. If they are not satisfied they have the right to file a report with labour officials.”

U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo, a member of the Yangon Regional Arbitration Committee as well as the Myanmar Industries Crafts and Services Trade Union Federation, told The Myanmar Times yesterday that the company was late to pay its workers’ wages and it failed to meet the main goals of the contract it signed with the agricultural mechanisation department.

“We have been reporting our grievances but no one from [the government or the company] has come to help us solve them effectively,” said U Aung Kyaw Tun Naing Oo. “The company wants us to go back to our old department. We want to discuss this transfer but the company will not allow us to discuss it.”