SD Fashion workers struggle to win safer conditions and pay rise, but have to pay more rent

Migrant workers from the SD Fashion Company [also known by its former name “Champion”] in Kham Piban, in Mae Sot negotiated with their employer at the Labor Protection and Welfare Department, the Ministry of Thai Labor an agreement for safer working conditions.

The workers’ leader, Ko Zaw Lay, at the SD Fashion garment factory, said that workers who used to received 185 Baht a day were now asking for 226 Baht a day – the sum workers would accept instead of the 300 Baht minimum award under Thailand’s Labor Protection Act. The employer agreed to the workers’ demands and said the compromise was possible because of housing issues.

Ko Zaw Lay explained.

“If the boss pay us the 300 Baht a day, we will not be allowed to live at the workers barracks that was [previously] provided by our employer. If is hard for us to rent houses, as not all workers have passports, we dare not to live outside. Also, there is violence in the outside area and it is problematic for us to live outside.”

Ko Zaw Lay said that it is hard to find houses to rent in Mae Sot and near the “Champion” factory. As for living outside, only 30 workers held temporary passports among the 600 workers currently employed at the factory – most workers would difficulties traveling.

Workers agreed to live in accommodation provided by the employer in exchange for 226 Baht a day and 40 Baht for overtime instead of 56 baht.

Speaking to Karen News, the Joint Action Committee for Burmese Affairs (JACBA) U Moe Kyo said.

“If the employer pay full wages, it will be difficult to rent houses close to the factory – they will have to live far away. That’s why the workers compromised with the employer over the living at the factory in exchange for taking a reduction in wages.”

The worker delegates and factory representatives also discuss building enough toilets for workers and providing clean and bottled drinking water.

According to sources, following discussions it was agreed that workers would accept 300 Baht a day and they would re-rent the current accommodation that they live in. Yesterday, the employer and workers signed a contract with a clause that lets workers who don’t want to rent accommodation from the factory get one month to consider alternatives.

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