Rakhine Migrant Workers Pledged Support for Party Working for Labor Rights

By Network Media Group
Monday, October 19, 2020

Rakhine migrant workers in Kachin State pledged to vote for a party that prioritizes labor rights. Workers told NMG that whatever party works for working-class people without discrimination based on race, religion or wealth gets their ballots.

Tun Hla Oo, employed by Sin Kyaing Co. Ltd. on a banana tissue plantation farm in Sankar village told NMG workers have to work under the hot sun and heavy rain, taking “whatever they are paid.”

“We want to get full labor rights. Not just for myself, but for all the workers.”

San Lin, a Rakhine man, who’s worked on banana plantations in Kachin State for over 10 years, told NMG that workers want a “government which unifies the ethnic people under the Union”, as well as ensuring everyone has adequate health and education. “The parties said they would work hard to restore peace in the country, job opportunities for working-class people, labor rights, self-administration and ethnic equality.”

When questioned, some Rakhine migrant workers said they’re voting for Kachin State People’s Party, while others are giving their vote to the New Democracy Party.

Several Kachin parties helped Rakhine migrant workers register for voting in the state.

Civil society organizations estimate there are hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from different states and regions in Burma employed on banana tissue plantations, doing other agricultural work or toiling away in the Hpakant jade mines.

The Humanity Institute reported at least 55,000 workers are employed on banana tissue plantations over 150,000 acres, located in Myitkyina and Bhamo districts.

According to the 2014 census, there were over 200,000 migrant workers in Kachin State.

The Kachin State Election Commission said there are about 1.1M voters registered in Kachin State. An increase of about 220K from the last race in 2015.