Monday, June 8, 2009

Abuse of labour rights in Arakan

Sittwe (Narinjara): Twenty five workers from a salt production site ran away for fear of arrest by police after the owner of the business lodged a complaint accusing them of stealing salt, said the father of a worker in Sittwe.

“My son, who was working in the salt production site, informed me that he fled from the workplace after a police team came to arrest them after the owner accused them of stealing,” he said.

U Than Win, owns the salt factory called Shwe Pyi Phyo salt factory. It is located in Bogri Photha Wra ward in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan state.

The salt production site is located in Nga Pre That village in Pauk Taw Township, 30 miles from Arakan state capital Sittwe.

According to local sources, U Than Win had an agreement with 25 workers from Sittwe to produce salt from salt farms he owned in Nga Pre That village. It was also agreed to share the profit on a half and half basis between the owner and workers.

The workers produced many tons of raw salt from the farms during the summer period and received profits equally in accordance with the agreement.

In May, before the onset of the rainy season, the workers produced 300 bags of salt from the farms. They informed the owner of the amount produced and asked him to put it up for sale.

However, a police team led by Maung Tun Tha from Kyauk Taung police station located near the salt farm came to arrest them but all the workers managed to escape because the police team was short of manpower.

“I heard that the salt farm owner did not want to share the profits of the last production with the workers. So he lodged a complaint with a senior police official from Sittwe accusing the workers of misappropriation of salt. He urged the police officer to arrest them after bribing the officer,” the worker’s father said.

On the instructions of the police officer, police inspector Maung Tun Tha went to the salt farms along with four police constables to arrest the workers. The police team seized all salt in the farms and equipments after the workers fled. Later the police inspector handed over 300 salt bags and materials to U Than Win.

In Burma, there are no workers’, labour organizations or unions to fight for labour rights. Because of this many workers are suffering in many workplaces in Arakan state as well as in the rest of Burma.

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