Thousands of workers at Adidas factory being forced to work for $40 to $50 a month

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Thousands of workers at Adidas factory being forced to work for $40 to $50 a month

Khalid Umar Malik
08 Jan 2023, 21:45 GMT+10

  • According to labor sources, officials at a sportswear factory in Yangon’s Shwepyitha Township asked more than 20 employees to return to work in late December after they were fired two m …
  • The workers had until Monday to sign a new employment contract with Myanmar Pou Chen, which manufactures shoes for the global brand Adidas.
  • More than 2,000 of Myanmar Pou Chen’s 7,800 employees went on strike in late October last year, demanding changes to factory regulations.

YANGON, Myanmar – According to labor sources, officials at a sportswear factory in Yangon’s Shwepyitha Township asked more than 20 employees to return to work in late December after they were fired two months earlier for organizing and participating in a strike.

The workers had until Monday to sign a new employment contract with Myanmar Pou Chen, which manufactures shoes for the global brand Adidas. The employees told the press that the terms of the offer were “unfair and one-sided” because they required them to give up previous demands for improved labor conditions and to refrain from future protests.

More than 2,000 of Myanmar Pou Chen’s 7,800 employees went on strike in late October last year, demanding changes to factory regulations. They demanded that the minimum daily wage be raised from 4,800 kyats (US$2.27) to 8,000 kyats ($3.78) to account for rising food prices, such as the doubling of rice prices.

Their demands were ignored, and the strike resulted in the dismissal of 26 workers, including 16 members of the factory’s labor union who were thought to have led the strike.

Among those fired, Myanmar Pou Chen labor union chair Phyo Thida Win stated that the re-employment offer did not meet the workers’ initial demands for paid overtime, guaranteed days off, and manageable production targets. Instead, officials allegedly only offered to compensate the employees for the time they were laid off.

“We were asked to sign a contract stating that we were satisfied and would not bargain further. “That is not acceptable to us,” he told the press. “They rejected all of the terms we proposed. I didn’t sign because it seemed like we were being forced to accept their terms, so I left.”

He was one of 17 employees who declined the offer; the remaining nine accepted the pay before resigning. Negotiations with factory officials having effectively failed, the workers said they would now relay their demands to Adidas.

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