Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Myanmar Labor Update

YangonThe situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate, and labor leaders are major targets. Below is a summary by Jamie Davis, who served for the Solidarity Center in Myanmar for several years and currently is posted to Indonesia. The photo at left is of the plaza in front of a shopping mall in Yangon, about two blocks away from University of Yangon. When I visit there, I usually stay nearby.

Myanmar deserves to be kept in the spotlight to keep people caring about what is happening there. As far as I know, the current situation is that there are no labor relations at this point. The military has targeted labor unions given they have been on the front lines of protests against the coup. Last month, the military announced that 16 unions and labor organizations were listed as being illegal. CTUM and MICS refused to attend tripartite meetings called for by the military. Indeed, Maung Maung and many others are in hiding but several union leaders have been arrested, others have warrants for their arrest, and yet more leaders are rumored to be on a secret list of those targeted for arrest. All unions have called for a national, sustained strike starting a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to bring the entire economy to a halt. As you may know, the military poured troops into the industrial zones on 14 March to crush the unions there and roughly 50 people were killed that day and martial law was imposed in the industrial zones and continues today. Internet blockages designed to hide atrocities were put in place and killings in the industrial zones continue. Tens of thousands of workers have been trying to leave Yangon to return to their villages as food supplies in the zones dwindle and meager savings have dried up. Troops and police continue to search for union leaders and many have fled. I don't think any factories are in operation at this point. Workers attempting to collect their salaries a few days ago at a shoe production factory were denied a portion of their pay and the management called police, which resulted in the immediate execution of one of the labor leaders who continued to demand for their rightful pay and a subsequent massacre of 5 more people with more than 70 workers arrested and taken away.



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