On 26 March 2017 workers in Yangon held a demonstration in Yangon, in opposition to a decision by the Government of Myanmar to unexpectedly and unilaterally cut workers’ holidays surrounding the Thingyan water festival, the Burmese New Year holidays in mid-April, from ten gazetted public holidays down to only five.
More than 5000 members of the BWI affiliate Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) marched to the city centre and gathered outside the Yangon Town Hall, demanding the Government rescind the oppressive policy.
“We are not government servants. We are from the private sectors. We have only a few days’ leave, while government staff have several holidays”, Yangon regional CTUM chairperson Ma Win Theingi Soe told the Myanmar Times. “If [the government] wants to set up the holidays equally, give us the same rights.”
“Most of the workers at my factory are from so far from the Yangon Region. They definitely cannot go back to their hometowns within five days. We will only accept 10 days off as usual”, she continued.
CTUM have expressed their concern that the process by which this decision was reached did not involve any consultation with worker representatives. Following a round of local meetings and a vote of their membership nationwide, CTUM decided to take action.
Over the past two weeks, workers from a dozen factories across the country have launched strikes to oppose the law change.