Thousands of garment workers at two industrial zones outside Yangon, Myanmar, are continuing their strikes despite a skirmish with police over the weekend at one factory.
An estimated 4,000 workers from garment factories in the Shwe Pyi Thar and Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zones are calling for pay raises of 30,000 kyats, or $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.
The workers are also demanding raises after a year of work at the factories, greater say in shaping labor regulations and increased protections for temporary employees.
Police clashed with workers outside the E-Land Myanmar factory after two weeks of strikes last Friday while trying to remove some workers from the factory. Police have refuted claims that they instigated the confrontation. E-Land Myanmar is listed as a Singaporean company and has around 1,000 workers, according to the Myanmar Garment Workers Association.
Another factory involved in the strikes, Costec, is listed by the trade association as South Korean and employs more than 1,400 workers.
Strikes at garment factories have been frequent since 2011, when Myanmar’s reformist President Thein Sein signed a labor law that allows workers to form some unions and strike if prior notice is given. Myanmar’s minimum wage law was passed in 2013, but the law is yet to be implemented, as a pay rate has not been determined. A survey was launched in late January to determine living costs and conditions of the country’s most vulnerable workers. This information will be submitted to the Ministry of Labor, which will consider it before setting minimum wage levels.