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Myanmar Workers Strike at 5 Garment Factories

Workers from five garment factories went on strike on Monday in Myanmar’s Yangon region in a dispute over pay and working conditions.

According to Mizzima.com, about 2,000 employees from Costec International, E-Land Myanmar, Ford Glory Garment and Han Jen Textile and Garment factories marched along the streets of the Shwepyithar township demanding that salaries be adjusted to match rates in other ASEAN countries, a reasonable minimum wage and permission to form unions.

The strikes come in the wake of the Feb. 2 publication of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association’s (MGMA) first ever Code of Conduct for the country’s garment industry. The code aims to establish responsible and ethical work practices, including compliance with national laws and regulations, labor rights, working conditions, and better wages and benefits.

As many as 200,000 people work in garment factories, according to the MGMA and the Labor Rights Clinic reports that the average employee works six days a week and 13 hours per day for about US$80 per month. The Department of Labour Records recorded 447 garment worker strikes between 2012 and 2014. The government has yet to fix a minimum salary, and talks between disputing workers and factories are ongoing.