Workers retain jobs as Yangon factories continue work amid COVID-19

Workers retain jobs as factories in Hlinethaya continue operations amid COVID-19. Photo: Than Htike

There are 29 industrial zones in Yangon Region with Hlinethaya Township housing 12 zones, the most in the region. Industrial zones are continuing to operate normally during the COVID-19 period so that employees retain their jobs.
The industrial zones in Yangon Region are operating in line with health regulations by the Ministry of Health and Sports and industrial zone chairpersons and garment manufacturer associations are making sure everyone complies so that factories will not be closing anytime soon.
Daw Khine Khine Nwe, General Secretary of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers’ Association, said they discussed health protection to keep the factories running in the last tripartite meeting. She said while they had to worry about the health of themselves and the employees, there was greater concern that they would be unable to pay the workers. Employers will need to maintain health regulations systematically and employees need to wear face masks and comply with the regulations when getting off work. She said they told the Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population during the tripartite meeting that they had no plans to shut down factories since they are adhering to guidelines from the health ministry. They have to analyze the nationwide situation so factories that have work continue to operate.
There are about 400 garment factories in Hlinethaya’s Shwe Lin Ban Industrial Zone and only suspected persons who have been in close contact with positive COVID-19 cases from three factories have been suspended while the rest continue to operate. The cases themselves were not transmitted between factory workers but contracted from external contact.
“We found positive cases in three factories. The first one was found in a Japanese factory with over 200 workers who were all given 10 days of paid leave,” said U Aye Thaung, Chairperson of the Shwe Lin Ban Industrial Zone. The second case was in a factory with 1,500 workers. The worker contracted the disease from taking care of their mother and they were suspended with 20 other people who were in close contact. The third factory also suspended workers who were in close contact with the positive patient.
U Aye Thaung said they do not urge factories to close but have increased protective health measures in all the factories. He said decisions should be made after consulting with the people who are actually working in the field. He said there are issues with managing employees through a medium and so they have decided to work through COVID-19 together.
The 12 industrial zones in Hlinethaya Township are industrial zones 1 to 5 and 7, Shwe Lin Ban, Ngwe Pin Le, Shwe Thanlwin, Anawratha, Mya Sein Yaung, and Livestock industrial zones. Factories continue to run during the second wave of COVID-19 so that workers can retain their jobs. —Than Htike (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)

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