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Article

15 Jul 2020

Author:
Ye Yint Khant Maung, TEACIRCLEOXFORD

Commentary: COVID-19 has been 'weaponized' against unionists in Myanmar

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"COVID-19 Weaponized Against Unionists in Myanmar", 9 July 2020

...The government has... dismissed unionists’ suggestions, disregarded their formal disputes, and used COVID-19 to justify intimidation and arrests of protestors. Employers have ignored COVID-19 related concerns raised by unionists... and used the pandemic as an opportunity to sack unionists en masse. The government and employers have weaponized COVID-19 to union-bust...

[At] a National Tripartite Dialogue Forum... [in March, union] Federations collectively called for the temporary shutdown of factories, with paid leave in April covered in part by the government. They also called for immediate actions to prevent the targeted termination of unionists without due process. Their recommendations were dismissed entirely...

[W]orkers [have] protested against unsafe and oppressive workplaces. Four factories from Dagon Seikkan township protested... in support of full-salary-factory closure. The factories were temporarily closed... without salary compensation. When the factories were reopened, these unionists were dismissed...

In Blue Diamond factory... workers began striking in... April ... One worker... told the media, “When we had nearly reached an agreement with the employer regarding April salaries, police cracked down on us and arrested our leaders and supporters.”... The employer filed two more articles against the two leaders for picketing and advocating for protest. There are many stories of unionists being ignored, dismissed, neglected, and then arrested for illegally striking...

Workers who have been dismissed have been unable to find work elsewhere...

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