Fight back in Myanmar


Fight back in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar has deeply shaken hopes for democracy but public servants and unions are fighting back.

Nā UnionAID executive officer Michael Naylor

Following the military coup in early February, hundreds of nurses and doctors from government hospitals took to the streets, to call for a return to democracy.

The protests gained momentum as staff from government ministries, banks, military owned enterprises, public schools, civil society organisations and student bodies joined in to support the Civil Disobedience Movement.

A nationwide strike on February 22 saw thousands, if not millions, of people on the streets.  

The scale of the movement shows how angry and desperate people are. Previously military rule denied them decent education, health care and labour rights. Now they fear their children will also be robbed of a better future.

PUBLIC SERVANTS STRIKE

It’s reported 30% of public service workers are on strike, along with an even higher percentage of government health workers. According to political activist Min Ko Naing, the public service workers strike will determine the outcome of the protests.

The protesters are courageous, as security forces respond with increasing violence and more people are being killed. Night-time house arrests of public service workers and other activists have become commonplace, accompanied by the noisy beating of pots and pans as neighbours try to warn them.

UNION AID SUPPORT

Myanmar Railway workers protest. Photo credit: Mizzima

With support from the New Zealand union movement including the PSA, UnionAID has had a long relationship with Myanmar. We have supported trade unions with funding and run the Myanmar Young Leaders Programme to promote democracy and human rights. 

We are receiving reports from many of the 94 alumni of the programme, many of whom are taking up leadership roles in the protests. Several have gone into hiding out of fear they will be arrested.

Unions have been organising protests and supporting striking workers.  State railway workers literally lay on the tracks to stop the trains being commandeered by the military. Some of them are members of the railway union UnionAID helped established in 2012. Several now face arrest warrants.

Recently the Confederated Trade Unions of Myanmar thanked PSA staff and others who attended a solidarity rally at Parliament organised by UnionAID and the New Zealand Myanmar community.

“Thank you so much NZ for your support. It is do or die for us, there is no other option!”

As Working Life goes to print, it’s unclear who will win this battle between the people and the generals. You can support UnionAID’s work to assist unions in Myanmar and other countries at www.unionaid.org.nz/donate/

Main Photo Caption: Nationwide strike day on 22 February. Credit: STR

 

 

Also in this issue:


News in Brief

In our News in Brief, Pasefika representation is being implemented across our union, we announce a new Māori leadership role, and acknowledge the anniversary of the March 15 attacks.

Read More

President's Message

Kia ora e te whānau o Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi

Read More

Nevertheless we're Persisting!

The theme for our Women’s Network Conference in March was to have been ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’.

Read More

"I found it very easy"

A year into the global pandemic, the roll out of vaccinations is being welcomed by many workers on the frontline.

Read More

Saving our Libraries

The PSA has helped defeat a proposal to partially-privatise Wellington library and slash its budget.

Read More

Bridging the Digital Divide

Imagine a world where you can’t just jump online to apply for jobs, access services or communicate with friends or family.

Read More

“It’s not easy opening your hearts up”

The opening hearings in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Mana Wahine Inquiry have heard powerful kōrero about the power, authority and status held by wāhine Māori in pre-colonial Aotearoa.

Read More

Hard won recognition

An interim equal pay agreement for DHB administration and clerical workers is being greeted with a mixture of satisfaction and relief.

Read More

“We’ve come a long way”

Ten years on from the February 22 earthquake we reflect on the challenges faced by our members in Canterbury as they helped their community to rebuild.

Read More

Summer Snaps Competition

We’ve had a great response to our PSA Plus Holiday Homes Photo competition with some quality snaps making it hard to choose a winner.

Read More

Plea for more sick leave

PSA home support members have told a parliamentary select committee they need more sick leave to keep themselves and their clients safe.

Read More

What do we want from health & disability review?

As we await the Government’s response to the health and disability sector review, we asked our PSA Community Public Services and DHB sector committees what they’re looking for.

Read More

"No fear factor" about disability

The formation of a network for disabled staff at Inland Revenue snowballed out of a desire to move beyond a “one click, one size fits all” mentality.

Read More

Leading the Way

It may say something about Brad Hedger’s commitment to the union that he agreed to speak to Working Life about his role as a PSA delegate just days before his wedding.

Read More

Climate Talk

New Zealand is stealing from the peoples of the Pacific. We are stealing their land, their homes, their water, and in doing so, we are jeopardising their future.

Read More

Challenging the Norm

Working mum Pip Bennett decided to research gender norms after becoming frustrated that everything was being left to her.

Read More

Men raising boys

A new book has inspired PSA member and stay-at home dad Aaron Packard to consider how we can help men to be more hands-on fathers

Read More

#My Mihi challenge

Learning a language is about starting out small and taking that first step.

Read More

Around & About

The Pride March in Auckland features among the events in our PSA picture page for this issue.

Read More

Big Brother Bosses - should you be worried?

Imagine you’re using a computer. Someone else installed software on it, and uses it to track your keystrokes, learn your password and access your personal email account.

Read More