Mae Sot Migrant Workers March in Solidarity during International Workers' Day 2014 (Henry Zwartz/Karen News)

Garment Workers – Demand Award Wages, Lunch Breaks and Reasonable Overtime Hours

About 700 migrant workers from the Garman (aka A1) garment factory in Mae Sot, Thailand staged a protest over seven demands.

Karen News is led to understand that the factory workers have been in negotiations since July 4, with the factory owners and officials but have yet to reach a settlement.

A worker organiser, Kyi Soe, told Karen News that, “out of the 7, we have agreed on 6 demands. We have not agreed on a wage increased of 20 baht – we need to discuss with the workers. If they do not compromise, we will push forward.”

The migrant workers are demanding wages to be paid regularly on the 10th of the month, not to be asked to do overtime after 10pm, the factory to issue workers with the original identification card (purple ID), an increase of 20 baht on current wages, to stop threatening and pressuring workers to sign an agreement, to allow workers full lunch break and the owner to take responsibility workplace accidents.

The Southern based-education foundation (FED), the Arakan Labor Campaign, Yaung Chi Oo Worker Association (YCOWA), and 22 worker representatives from the factory met and discussed on July 6 to help garment workers receive their full rights according to the law.

Aung Aung from ALC told Karen News that, ”after carefully investigating the workers demands we will advice them. Even if we have to take the case to the court at the end, we will be involved in helping them. If and when the owner agrees to the [workers] demands, we will work to have both parties sign the agreed contract.”

According to U Moe Joe, a chairman of the Joint Action Committee for Burma Affairs (JACBA), based in the Thai-Burma border town of Mae Sot, there are 200 legally registered factories and over 1,000 unregistered home-based small factories. However, in Mae Sot, only four factories pay its workers in accordance with the Thai law – 300 baht daily wage and 56 baht/hr for overtime.

The majority, over half of the Burmese migrant workers, at the Garman factory have legal work permits, but the highest daily wage they receive from the factory is about 180 baht a day.

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