WSLB's Workers' Convergence: Strength in Solidarity during Adverse Times

WSLB's Workers' Convergence

IWA-YAS is an independent publication launched in April 2023 by IWA Yangon Initiative.

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on January 13, 2024

Worker Solidarity League of Burma (WSLB) was organised in 2000 as a semi-underground association to fight for workers’ rights in the emerging industrialization of the country and only one founder, Mr. Ye Naing Win, survives today. CCTU (Cooperating Committee of Trade Unions) was organised by 45 basic labour unions in 2012, with the objective of organising labour unions and bringing them together into strong coalitions. WSLB/CCTU has been engaging in day-to-day protection and promotion of labour rights, capacity development of labour unions, organising and networking with more labour unions, and striving to build genuine and strong labour federations at the township, divisional and national levels.

After the 2021 military coup, CCTU was outlawed by the SAC military government and it faced a lot of hardships like any other worker union and trade unions. Among all unions and trade federations, WSLB has, in its history of over 20 years, maintained a reputation for serving only the interests of the working class, devoid of any partisan elements. Under these circumstances of Coup and civil war, the worker unions are divided into two groups as power politics by NUG (National Unity Government) leaning groups and SAC (State Administrative Council) leaning groups. WSLB tries very hard to firmly stand with the class interest over the war between the statist party’s political interests. It has been federated with IWA Yangon Initiative aiming to build cross-border solidarity and true working-class internationalism with the other IWA affiliations.

Now, under the name of WSLB, the league held a Workers’ Convergence with some unions from industrial zones. The objective of this convergence is to reconnect amongst the unions, introduce Anarcho-Syndicalism, share and discuss the issues from each different division of labour and sector, find ways to cooperate, and finally build solidarity among the working class.

The highlight of discussion in convergence would be the recent victory of the strike in regards to the raise in minimum wage. Minimum wages have been revised from 4800 MMK to 5800 MMK (1.6 USD) per day through an allowance of 1,000 MMK on 1st October 2023. Young workers are trying to migrate abroad because of insufficient wages. The inflation and rise of commodities prices have forced the workers to fight with their self-consciousness. Moreover, at the most chaotic time of turmoil, not only the workers are clashed between two ruling classes in war but also the bourgeois class is exploited in every possible way in various workplaces, as there is no news, media, or labour unions or civil society organisations to monitor. On the bright side, we believe that mutual aid and solidarity will be the way of survival in this turmoil and the working masses will learn their true strength and inner merit. They will get inspiration from each other; they will learn from each other by themselves; they will protect each other by themselves; they will share the bittersweet victory among each other which is their class interest through solidarity. Therefore, this had been a good opportunity to advocate the concept of direct action, mutual aid and solidarity.

Original article can be found on the official website of Yangon Anarchist Association.
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