More than 300 Burmese migrant factory workers in Thailand’s Three Pagodas Pass have been on strike for three days after their employer refused to increase their pay by 15 baht per day.
Workers from the Watana Footwear Company—which produces shoes and other items—have demanded an equal amount of money as other factory workers in the area.
Aung Bo, a leading member of the strikers, said, “They told us to come and work today. But all of us made an agreement not go to work unless they gave in to our demands.”
Workers at the factory currently earn between 65 and 80 baht for a nine-hour workday, depending on their experience. This is a lot less than the average wage for Thailand, causing many workers to feel exploited.
They also requested that the company provides them with clean drinking water as they currently make do with untreated water from a pipe.
Around five leaders of the striking migrant workers met company bosses at the factory on Monday in order to negotiate a compromise.
But the employer refused to pay all workers their demands of an extra 15 baht, saying that he only pays the factory mangers an additional 20 baht. But he offered to pay workers who only get the 65 baht a day minimun an additional 15 baht on top.
“We want them to increase the pay of all of us so that we are equal. If we do not achieve this then we will tell all the workers here not to work for this company,” said Ko Nan Yee, one of the managers who participated at the meeting.
Around 400 Burmese workers also went on strike at a shoe factory owned by PTK Company last week to demand a raise of 20 baht per day. The workers reached an agreement after the employer agreed to pay an extra 15 baht a day.
There are around 5,000 Burmese migrants in Three Pagodas Pass, many of them coming from different parts of Burma. The town has around 30 factories which produce gloves, textiles and shoes.
Factory workers say that they have to pay around 2,200 baht a month for accomodation and food, and so their spare cash only comes to around 500 baht a month.
“We are only demanding what we need. It is not a strike for luxuries,” added Ko Nan Yee.