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Myanmar’s Sakura factory refuses to take back striking workers

A Japanese garment factory in Myanmar, has refused to take back workers striking over newly imposed daily production requirements which they say was nearly impossible to meet. The workers, at Sakura factory located in Hlaing Tharyar township’s industrial Zone 3, have been protesting against increased workload heaped by the company on them since July 29.

At the end of August, the Yangon Region Arbitration Council ordered the factory owner to take back 316 striking workers with compensation for time spent protesting. Instead of following the ruling, the owner decided to appeal the decision to a higher council. Union leader Ma Cho Cho Latt, who has worked with the company for six years said that their clothing production section was told it would have to produce 135 items each day with only 32 workers starting on August 1 only in the last week of July.

The factory forced the workers to produce more clothing. Besides their normal quota, factory officials added about 10 more items of clothing to the primary target. That was not possible because there were not enough workmen to finish the task. While on July 29, more than 300 workers protested. Even after four negotiation sessions held by the Labour Relation Department a settlement could not be reached. This forced the dispute to reach the Council. Besides ordering the rehiring of the workmen, the council also vetoed the increased clothing production quota.

Besides calling for a settlement, protesting workers have now added a slew of demands that could better the factory conditions. The Japanese factory owner, Ito Kiyokazu, started the Sakura garment factory in 2006. He owns four other factories in Myanmar.