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8 Nov 2023

Hsu Latt Phyu, Myanmar Labour News

Myanmar: Garment workers at Kfine International Garment workers report labour rights abuses

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"Kfine garment factory forced the workers to work overtime for the three days closure during the flood. Announcing that the attendance bonus will be cut for taking the gate pass", 8 November 2023

Garment workers of Bagu-based Kfine (KFINE INTERNATIONAL GARMENT) said that they had to work overtime for the substitution of the 3 days [factory] closure during the flood, and they were working overtime at the rate of 2 hours a day. The factory workers said that the factory official told them to work overtime at the rate of two hours a day from Monday to Friday, including four hours of overtime on Saturday.

For the 3 days that were closed due to floods, 24 working hours wages will not cut from the salary. But they told us to continue to work overtime at the rate of 2 hours after the evening work. We had to work overtime for 4 hours on Saturday. The workers suffer. Overtime should be 2 times the wage, "said the workers...

Kfine factory officials called a meeting of all workers on October 18 and said that they will cut hourly wage and 5,000 kyats from the attendance bonus of gate pass takers. The workers said that in the last few months, the hourly rate of getting a gate pass has been cut to 1,400 kyats, and...they have made a program to also cut the attendance bonus.

It is acceptable to cut the attendance bonus for an absen[ce] [but] getting a gate pass is not an absen[ce]...Workers don't take gate passes unnecessarily...The workers take [a] gate pass because of important issues, [such as] social and health issues...Right now they would cut 700 kyats from the daily wage and the 5,000 from the attendance bonus...10,000 will be cut for taking 5 hour gate pass in a single month. The attendance bonus will not be paid for that month if we take 8 hours gate pass,” a worker said to Myanmar Labour News.

Workers at the Kfine factory said that they forced the workers to sign a certificate accepting the attendance bonus cutting the program. In addition, a Kfine worker explained that some super[visors]in the factory swear rudely at the workers].

“The line 8 super[visor] uses extremely rude words if the workers have a low [productivity], she swears [at] us by mentioning her body parts,” said a labour...

The super[visor] that manage[s] line[s] 5, 6, 7 and 8 [has] sworn [severely at] a girl...The girl [didn't] even ask [for a] gate pass to go back as she was so embarrassed. But the super[visor] told her to sit down until she finished swearing. Even the other people near[by] closed their ears [out of] embarrassment. She [says] things that no one would like to hear. She is the rudest and the [one that] swear[s] [the most] in the factory,” said the witnessed worker...

"It's a time when employment is difficult so we have no choice but to tolerate. There is no one who would not [feel] embarrass[ed] to be publicly humiliated...In the meantime, the super[visors] collaborated with the Chinese supervisors, and set the [targets] higher,” a factory worker said.

The workers said that some of the [supervisors] at the Kfine factory were demanding [higher targets] and firing some workers in accordance with the wishes of the Chinese supervisors.

"Some of the workers would get poor [targets] because of health conditions and other reasons. If that's the case, some supervisors] would slander [workers]. As soon as we didn't [reach the target[, they told the Chinese supervisors and asked them to [give us a] warning...The workers [are] fired if they have to sign [for] the warning...3 times...,” said the workers...

“When the labour office came to inspect...[a]s the factory know[s] the inspection [is happening] in advance[,] they prepare a chair for the pregnant woman in the office to demonstrate that they are assigned...easy tasks and as soon as the inspectors left, they came to take back the chair and force the pregnant woman to work to meet [targets] as before,” they said.

...the workers said that there are difficulties in using drinking water and toilets inside the factory. Workers told Myanmar Labor News that although there are more than 20 housing units in the factory, there is no safety because there are damaged rooms.

"There are no cups for the workers. The water is provided with a water purifier. We have to bring a cup from home. The other toilets are not safe...Some of the toilets are broken, the smells from the men side came to women side. We don't feel safe because [they are side by side], said a female worker...

The workers said that although a dispensary was opened in the Kfine factory a few months ago, [there is no] medicine for current use and they...have submitted and [are] waiting for...approval to buy medicines.

"When we went to ask for medicine, we were told that they are waiting for the approval. Each machine line and department are provided with medical bags with no medicines. In addition, if the inspectors come to check, the bags will be filled with medicine. [When] they [go] back, the medicines [are] taken back...,” the workers told Myanmar Labor News.

The workers said that KFINE INTERNATIONAL GARMENT factory is currently [supplying] brands such as Only, Zara...are being manufactured with around 2,000 workers.