HKCTU supports dismissed and arrested hotel workers in Myanmar

In solidarity with the HLOB trade unionists from the Hotel Tharabar Gate in Bagan, Myanmar, who were dismissed and criminally detained for exercising their right to freedom of association, representatives from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions have staged a protest at the Consulate General of Myanmar in Hong Kong today (29 April, 2019). Since its establishment four years ago, the HLOB has been under constant pressure from the management and the local government; workers’ right to freedom of association is under seriously threat.

In August 2018, management of the Hotel Tharabar Gate dismissed union chairman Nay Myo Winalong and 11 other workers, including 3 union executives and 7 union members. After negotiations on reinstatements with the management broke down, 23 workers initiated a sit-in protest from October last year. On 11 December, the police dispersed the sit-in workers. The demonstration organized by the union in solidarity with workers on the following day was also suppressed by the police. 13 demonstrators, including HLOB union leaders and members, were arrested and the 23 workers who participated in the sit-in were dismissed by the management.

On 1 March, 2019, the president of HLOB and 5 other trade union leaders and members were convicted to one month's imprisonment under the “Law of Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession". The verdict was an unmistakable announcement by the authorities that trade union activity in Myanmar is now criminalized.

Although the above 6 workers were released from prison on 29 March, the HLOB continues to fight for the reinstatement of the 35 workers and union members who were unfairly dismissed by Hotel Tharabar Gate in August and December last year. In December 2018, the IUF has submitted a formal complaint against the Myanmar Government to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association. In support of the suppressed HLOB members, affiliates of IUF from all over the world staged protests and demonstrations at local Burmese Embassies and Consulate Generals since March.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions is enraged at the dismissal and criminal detention of hotel workers in Myanmar who were simply exercising their right to freedom of association. We believe the right to organize and unionize is the foundation of labour rights and shall not be infringed by any form of governmental intervention. Thus, we demand Myanmar government to:

1. Respect workers’ right to freedom of association; and

2. Reinstate all Hotel Tharabar Gate hotel workers who were dismissed for participating in union activities.