Kyu Kyu Khine, 34, is a chairperson of Shining Star Toetet Union, a local affiliate of BWFM. Located in Mandalay, Shining Star produces wooden furniture. Khine has been working at the factory for 8 years. Learning the trade union rights from the training and discussion provided by BWFM, Khine is committed to strengthen the trade union at her workplace.
When she started becoming a union activist, the union at Shining Star was at the brink of losing its membership. The employer lured the union members with additional bonus for abandoning the union. With assistance from BWFM, Khine continued organizing the workers and raising the awareness. To earn back the trust from the workers, she initiated a process for collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiation. When the CBA was concluded with all the demands met, the union was revived.
“In Burmese culture, men always occupy the leadership. One way of undermining my leadership, I experienced bullying from some people around me.” said Khine.
Even though it is very difficult, Khine managed to overcome these cultural and gender barriers. In fact, she was able to resolve a sexual harassment case of her co-worker by the management. And as a strategy to encourage active participation of women workers in the union, Khine also approach the family members of these women workers.