Our comrades from FGWM (Federation of Garment Workers Myanmar) and Solidarity Centre inform us that many textile companies in the country are using union-busting strategies since after the summer. With the excuse of Covid-19, many unions members have been fired, security personnel in the factories have been involved in attacks and assaults, and the companies have often taken other measures to hinder workers’ organisation. These are not isolated cases, but rather a phenomenon that is repeated in many factories, with a similar pattern. Some of the cases reported include:
– Amber Stone Factory: 270 union members were fired in September. They had demanded health and safety measures to protect from Covid-19, such as ¡access to clean drinking water in the factory!, together with the payment of back wages. This factory works for brands like Springfield and Guess Jeans.
– VIP Factories: these are two factories owned by the same company. In the first, all union members were fired, while in the other, most of them were. Similarly, one of their main demands was the introduction of health and safety measures to curb the pandemic.
– Myan Htat Pin Factory: union representatives were dismissed.
It is obvious that companies are trying to take advantage of the social distancing measures decreed by the country’s government and use them for union busting. Right now, assemblies, wildcat strikes and rallies at the factories’ gates, usual methods of organization and struggle for FGWM, are banned, as the number of people in any meeting is limited to 6 by law. This does not prevent thousands from crowding into the factories on each shift, though.
Covid-19 is just an excuse used by the companies to unleash a wave of union repression against a very militant organization that had been growing strongly in the sector. In fact, often what triggers the dismissals are precisely demands for basic health and safety measures. Also, new workers are hired immediately to replace dismissed union members. Clearly, the mantra of reduced workloads in the factories is not true.
As you would expect, our FGWM comrades do not just suffer helplessly these attacks by the bosses. From the very first moment, they have been fighting with determination to stop them, using all the tools at their disposal. They can be certain of the support and solidarity from the International Labour Confederation, ICL, and its sections in this struggle.
Stop union busting in Myanmar! Union members back on the shop floor! International solidarity against attacks by the bosses!
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