YANGON, Myanmar—Government officials have said that they will continue to facilitate negotiations with striking garment workers outside of Yangon but threatened to take legal action if laws were broken by the demonstrators.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security issued a statement on Monday night saying that they would continue to work as an intermediary between factory owners and workers, who are striking for increased pay and improved labor conditions.
However, the statement also warned that the government would not hesitate to intervene if it deemed workers were breaking the law.
“[The government] will take action against those who break the law and instigate for disturbing the rule of law,” the state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported the Ministry of Labor statement as saying on Tuesday. The Yangon Region Government issues a similar statement, the Global New Light said.
The newspaper also reported that some factories risked being “blacklisted” for halting work since Jan. 28, according to the Ministry statement. It is unclear what this blacklist would entail.
Thousands of garment factory workers at the from garment factories in the Shwepyithar and Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zones are calling for pay rises of around 30,000 kyats, or about $30 at current exchange, according to reports from local news outlets. This increase would see monthly wages move to between 60,000 kyats, or $60, and 80,000 kyats, or $80.
Tensions have run highest at the E-Land Myanmar factory where police clashed with workers on Feb. 20. E-Land Myanmar is listed as a Singaporean company and has around 1,000 workers, according to the Myanmar Garment Workers Association.
The Union of Myanmar Federation Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the country’s largest business federation, is expected to issue a statement on the situation Wednesday.