More than 2000 factory workers staged a protest on November 20, 2017 in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar township, demanding that the government increase the daily minimum wage in light of rising costs of living and inflation.
“Unless something is done to stop increases to living expenses, soon workers will be unable to survive,” said Ma Hla Hla, a union representative who led the protest.
“We have recently seen cases of suicide of people who could not provide enough money for their families. We want the government to act quickly to raise the minimum wage,” she added.
The protesters called on the government to lift the minimum daily wage from K3600 (US$2.78) to K5600, an increase of almost 56 percent. Rising accommodation costs were highlighted as a key justification for the proposed wage increase.
According to Ma Hla Hla, it costs around K40,000 to K50,000 per month to rent an 8-foot-by-8-foot bedroom in Hlaing Tharyar township.
At these rates, workers would need to work between 11 and 14 days a month just to cover their rent, before factoring in food, health and other expenses.