A factory workers’ strike in Rangoon which started last week continued on Wednesday, February 17, as about one hundred workers in a garment factory staged a sit-in strike, calling for an increase in basic salary, better overtime hours and holidays off. About 15 riot police trucks have been deployed to the area. It has been reported that government officials, factory owners and the striking workers are now negotiating over the demands.
The growing number of workers’ strikes in Burma has begun to attract global-wide attention. In a country that does not tolerate any form of unrest, these workers strikes show the resolute and courageous manner of resisting and defying authority. Last week, on February 10, 2010 the Congress of South African Trade Unions showed its solidarity with the workers in Burma, by calling upon “the workers and democrats around the world to express their support for these brave striking workers and to demand that all governments refuse to have any relations with this anti-worker dictatorship.”
Just in the previous week alone, almost 2,000 workers from three factories in the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone in Rangoon staged a strike to demand better wages and shorter hours. According to Mizzima News, the riot police cordoned off the streets of the industrial area and heavy police presence can be seen in and around the eye of the strikes. The workers demanded a raise of Kyat 10,000 (USD $10), and the strike ended when employers agreed to pay half the amount.
1,400 workers from a garment factory in the industrial zone also staged a strike on Monday of last week demanding better pay and better working conditions. Many speculate that these strikes seem to be related to pay increases for government workers in January, who are now paid a flat Kyat 20,000 (USD $20) per month.