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About 650 workers in a clothing factory in Hlaing Tharyar were fired after holding a strike to demand for a 10-day break to celebrate the Thingyan water festival.

Ma Hnin Pwint Aung, a leader of the workers at the Korean-owned Myanmar Gun San factory, said the workers had organised a strike on March 25 to demand extra off days during the festive season.

She said during discussions with the management about the festive break, the workers had stopped working.

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“The management responded by telling us to leave if we did not want to work,” she told The Myanmar Times on March 28.

The management had earlier informed workers that the factory would only close for five days during the coming Thingyan festival.

Ma Hnin Pwint Aung said workers were allowed to take an extra five days for the festival but they would have to pay back the time-off taken at a later time.

“If we don’t pay back, our salaries would be deducted. We are asking the management to just give us the 10 days off,” she said.

The workers, she said, were also unhappy over other issues and 22 demands were recently made known to the factory management.

The workers demanded that the management allow them to take leave, issue them social welfare cards, and supervise the security guards, whom workers claimed had been very rude to them.

“Workers have not been allowed to take leave since the factory opened eight months ago. We want the management to let us take leave, as provided under the law.

“If the management agrees and put that in our contracts, we will come back to work,” Ma Hnin Pwint Aung said.

Action Labour Right’s member Ko Wai Linn, who is assisting the Myanmar Gun San workers, said the workers had reported their case to the township’s labour arbitrator groups and labour department.

The Myanmar Times could not reach the factory management for comment.

The Thingyan holidays had become an issue of late after the government reduced the number of festive off days from 10 to five. The recent decision to shorten the festive holiday has sparked protests by workers.

The Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) demanded the government set 10 days off for every Thingyan during last Saturday’s protest by 5000 workers outside the Yangon City Hall.

CTUM leaders also threatened to launch major worker strikes if the government ignored their demand.

Myanmar Times [http://www.mmtimes.com/]

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