Faceless factories mask illegal practices
It may seem strange, but young Burmese migrant workers on the Thai-Burma border often don’t know the names of the Thai factories where they work. The failure to have signs and names on their factories is often a deliberate ploy by the owners of small factories in Mae Sot. These employers are not always operating with permission from the authorities, and it suits them to create this confusion.
The UnionAID project in Mae Sot is working to lift this veil.
Factory invisibility makes it difficult for unions to identify and organise workers, and ensure labour laws are met. In addition, when there is pressure for better wages and conditions, or a downturn in product demand, it is easy to close down the factories. Owners then avoid their legal obligations to workers such as providing severance pay, or overtime payments. And then what happens is that, sooner or later, the factory reopens with a new name and often a new location.
Your contributions to UnionAID help the Federation of Trade Unions Burma (FTUB) in Mae Sot educate and organise these migrants to improve their working conditions and provide some security. The union is also establishing a database of every factory so that they can not only inform workers of their rights, but can use this information to seek legal redress for workers who are laid off when factories close.