More than 100 workers took to the streets and set up demonstration camps near the Mahabondoola square in downtown Yangon on September 22 against the closure of the Hong Xing factory.
The frozen food factory in Dagon Seikkan Township, Yangon region was closed on September 16, after an official announcement on September 12, leaving around 200 workers stranded with no jobs.
The protesting workers said that they would continue the demonstration until the factory owners met them and resolved the crisis. There were about 70 workers at the protest camp.
One of the protester, Tun Naing, said, “All the workers are unemployed due to the closure. So we have staged the demonstration here to get our jobs back.”
The workers and their family members living in the factory quarters have also received eviction notices from the factory. The notice threatens to hand them over to the police if they fail to vacate factory premises by September 23.
Worker Zarni Phyo Swe said, “The factory workers stage demonstration whenever they are dissatisfied with the working environment. The factory owners do not like it. Then they closed the factory without giving proper reasons and said that they would give us compensation. We do not want compensation. We want to be re-employed as it is very difficult for us to find another job.”
U Kaung, Manager of Hong Xing factory responded that he was not authorized to speak on the matter to Mizzima's inquiry on the issue.
Myo Gyi from the Dagon Seikkan Workers’ Help Group said that the factory owners did not give prior information about the closure to the workers and that they were exploited by the owners.
“I would like to see the crisis resolved through legal means. But the factory bribed officials and bullied the workers. Whenever there are disputes between factory owners and workers, the workers send complaint letters to the Labor Department, President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi but they never got any responses from anyone; the demonstration is their last resort,” he said.
The workers did not seek permission from officials concerned to stage the demonstration.The police arrived at the protest camp at 3 p.m. but they did not take any action and left at about 5 p.m.
Protester Linn Linn said, “We did not seek permission from officials for our demonstration as we know that it would take time and they will turn down our request. As unemployed workers we have no other choice but to stage the demonstration to send our message to the people and government officials.”