July 11th, 2011
Mi Lyeh Htaw – Workers who demanded an increase to their daily wages in Three Pagodas Pass on the Thai-Burma border are working again after reaching an agreement with their employer, the owner of a shoe factory.
“We didn’t get the amount we want, but it is difficult to move another place for work even if we are dissatisfied,” said Aung Myint Soe, a leader of the workers’ protest.
The workers had stopped working after asking for an extra 30 baht per day. Eventually, their employer agreed to a15-baht-per-day increase.
The factory pays its workers twice per month, and on average an employee receives about 1,500 baht per pay period. The workers demanded increased wages because of increased commodity prices. Additionally, the Burmese currency is currently stronger than the Thai currency.
Maung Win, a worker, said, “I got 70 baht per day previously, and now I will get 85 baht.” The difference will not solve all of the workers’ problems, but most of them will continue with their current factory jobs as seasonal agricultural workers face difficulty in finding employment during the rainy season.
Recently, the workers have been getting 100,000 Burmese kyat if they exchange 4,000 Thai baht, although they used to get the same amount when they transferred 3,000 baht last year, Maung Win explained.
He added, “It costs about 700 baht for my living expenses for half a month. I don’t have enough money to send my parents in Burma since the value of Burmese currency has increased.”
About 2,000 workers from Basini Enterprise Co., Ltd protested peacefully on July 7 for an increase to their wages. The factory was closed for two days after the work stoppage. Basini Enterprise Co., Ltd is located between Three Pagodas Pass and Sangkhlaburi, Thailand.
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