The management of a former state-owned jute factory in Yangon on Wednesday sacked over 300 workers who have been employed for over 30 years, saying they are facing losses and will shut down the facility.
“Factory officials told us they have to close the factory and dismiss us because they have been suffering losses,” said U Soe Lwin, a factory union leader.
U Soe Lwin, who is also a vice-chairman of the Myanmar Industries Craft and Services Trades Unions Federation (MICS-TusF), said that when the present private management of the Kyaw Htet Kyaw Company took over in 2012, they vowed to keep the factory running.
However, the company did not continue the jute production business and has been making money by renting out the part of the factory as storege space, as well as renting out plot of lands owned by the factory for car parks and a golf course, U Soe Lwin said.
“We only want our jobs back. If company can’t run the jute business, they must return the factory and the workers to the government. It is unacceptable if they continue running their other businesses while firing us,” he said.
The workers said the private company had not made any investments in jute planting and production.
“I want to keep working here. It is difficult for us to find other job as we are old. We have invested our lives here over several decades” said Daw Phyu Phyu Htwe, who has been employed at the factory for 33 years.
She also said that all the workers received promotions, skills fees, services fees and other allowances when the state was running the factory.
Factory officials said that they had already announced as early last August that they planned to close the factory because of losses but they extended the operations for five more months due to government mediation and sympathy to the workers.
They said their action is based on the existing regulations of the Labour Ministry.
The head of the factory declined to comment on the issue.
The jute factory and its compound are located in Okkyin Ward in Hlaing Township in Yangon.
The 314 former employees gathered in front of the gate as they were prohibited from entering the factory.
Union leaders said that they plan to hold protests if the dispute is not be settled.