COVID-19: 16 factories shut down due to shortfall in raw materials

Labour organizations hold press Conference on factories closure after COVID-19 outbreak at the Sky Hotel in Hlinethaya, Yangon yesterday.  Photo:     Myint Maung
Labour organizations hold press Conference on factories closure after COVID-19 outbreak at the Sky Hotel in Hlinethaya, Yangon yesterday.  Photo: Myint Maung

Sixteen factories have closed in Myanmar due to a disruption in supply of raw materials on account of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a press conference, held on 8 March at the Sky Hotel in Hlinethaya Township, where 12 workers’ groups shared their concerns on COVID-19.
The closure of garment factories has led to mass layoffs, affecting more than 7,000 workers, according to the press conference.
The 12 workers’ groups answered questions at the press conference. They called for the formation of an inspection group to look into the shortage of raw materials, and asked the authorities to govern volatile commodity prices, authorize the inspection group, and provide guidelines on preparations for a possible virus outbreak.
“Workers engaged in the garment industry are facing unemployment on account of COVID-19. We are concerned that the outivists for labour rights world be laid off. We accept factory closures due to lack of raw materials. But, we need to scrutinize factories to see if they are really facing a shortage of raw materials or not. The inspection team should include both government officials and workers’ groups,” said the general secretary of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM).
“The sudden closure of some factories has raised suspicions, and some have been found resuming their business in other places. Factories need to be inspected to check whether they have been affected by COVID-19, or they just want to terminate workers,” he said.
China is the top investor in Myanmar’s garment industry, which includes more than 260 factories. There are 92 factories owned by Myanmar citizens, 20 Japanese factories, and more than 60 Korean factories in the country, according to the press conference.
At present, factories have started cutting working hours due to lack of raw materials. The closure of 16 factories has resulted in the termination of about 6,000-7,000 workers. —Myint Maung (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)

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