Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Workers Suffer As Factories Close Down

1 January 2008
Original report by Naw Say Paw, DVB, Thailand

About 1000 employees from New Wave shoe factory, Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Estate, Rangoon are now suffering because the factory is closed. After sacking 200 workers for demonstrating in September as they protested for being denied workers' rights, the owner of the factory closed it down in late October.

According to one employee, the reason for the closure is the unavailability of supplies. It has also been learnt that worker are not getting the proper partial payment during the period of closure.

She said,' We still get a small payment but it is not even half of our normal salary. Our basic salary is about K 35,000which with the overtime can rise to about K50,000 a month. At present we only get K12,000 which is not enough to live on. If we know for sure that the closure is permanent, then we can start looking for a new job, and claim compensation to which we would be entitled. But so far however, we have not been given any further information and are only provided with this small wage each month, which is not enough to support a family.'

Until now, there has been no intervention by the Ministery of Labour or any other workers organisations concerning the legal closure of the factory and the distribution of compensation amongst its employees. When New Wave factory was contacted for further information, an official explained that the closure is nothing to do with the September protests but there is not only a genuine lack of raw material supplies, but also a lack of demand for the products.

When the Ministery of Labour was contacted, there was no official available to respond to the enquiry. It is reported that there are some other factories in Hlaing Thar Yar Industrial Estate, which have also shut down due to the shortage of raw material supplies.

More often than not, pro-government media and newspapers blame the closures of factories on trade and economic sanctions imposed by the USA and the West, even though there are many other alternative suppliers who will do business with the government. More importantly there is no mention of how, as a country's Government, they propose to achieve a solution to these difficulties and assist the impoverished and powerless workers to endure the consequent unemployment.

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