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Date: Mon, 5 May 97 09:22:32 CDT
Subject: Free Burma Digest (May 3): NLD - 1997 Workers Day (Mayday)
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Subject: Free Burma Digest (May 3): NLD - 1997 Workers Day (Mayday) From: osolnick <>
Subject: National League for Democracy - 1997 Workers Day (Mayday) Statement

1997 Workers Day (Mayday) Statement

By the National League for Democracy (NLD), 1 May, 1997

Statement No: 3/97

1) Through the strength of more than 600,000 workers uniting in a strike, on May 1, 1886, in the United Sates of America the working hours were agreed upon as 8 hours in a day. With regard to the blood spilled to achieve this victory, the first of May was recognized as the "Worker's Day" by the Second Conference of the International Workers League held in 1890 at Paris and has been celebrated worldwide everywhere since then.

2) In Burma, May Day was initiated and celebrations held by the Oil Field Workers in May 1, 1938. At that time, although Burma was under British rule, more than 2000 white and blue collar oil workers of the oil fields in Yaenanchaung and Chauk entered into a strike and succeeded in demanding higher wages and annual increments.

3) In 1945, the Second World War was over and Burma again fell under British rule. In 1946/47, based on the sound national spirit and for the national cause, Government servants from many ministries and departments including the Police, Post and Telegraph, Railways and workers from the companies made a general strike unanimously opposing the White Paper Project of the British Government. As a result, the colonial government had to allow General Aung San, the national leader of Burma to form and lead a government and to have a right to form and shape the future of Burma.

4) In 1948, a constitution was promulgated, by which Burma was to be formed as a democratic country guaranteeing the basic human rights of all races and walks of the people including equality, freedom of organizing, freedom of expression, freedom of livelihood, equality under the law. In the same year, Burma joined the United Nations as a member.

5) After independence, in February of 1949, under the AFPFL (Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League) government, a nation-wide general strike of all walks of government servants was held expressing dissatisfaction at lay-offs and reduction of salaries and through this freedom of expression, their demands were achieved.

6) In 1946, the ILO , which was founded in 1910, was recognized as a special institution of the United Nations. From Burma, a representative of the Trade Union Congress of Burma TUCB, a representative of employers and that of the government started regularly attended the ILO Annual Conference held at Geneva in every June. In accordance with the resolution of that ILO Committee, the government's role was to guarantee the security of the workers' lives promulgated laws. The living standard of the workers in Burma was highly regarded in the world and looked up to by other countries.

7) But, after the military coup in 1962 by the Revolutionary Council, the democratic constitution and laws were revoked and the country was ruled by decrees and orders. Since then, the freedom of association once exercised by the workers has disappeared and guarantees for the life of workers and job security have become almost non-existent. The Workers' Association formed by the authorities only do what the authorities like to see.

8) The Burma Socialist Program Party (BSPP) promulgated the constitution of the Socialist Republic Union of Burma, with the aim of withholding the power forever. Under their rule, Burma, which was one of the richest countries in the region, became a least developed country (LDC) status. The life of the workers became very harsh and government service personnel were reduced to corruption to fulfill their daily life.

9) In 1988, the State Law and Order restoration Council (SLORC) made a coup after the people's democratic movement. Since the coup, the authorities have been using "forced labor" including children in infrastructure projects of transport and communication, dams and reservoirs, roads and bridges and construction projects. It also has been using people of all ages and sex as forced conscripted porters for military offensives and operations at the border. Due to these situations, the United Nations, ILO and the human rights organizations have pointed out and denunciated its human rights record. ILO has urged the SLORC not to continue the practice of forced labor, in accordance with the resolutions in its 29th convention.

10) ILO has also urged the SLORC to abide by Convention No. 87 and 98, which concerns the right of freedom in organization, which is instrumental for the full guarantee of the workers' rights.

11) ILO has pointed out and objected to the violation by the Burmese authorities of the resolutions prohibiting children 18 years old and under from joining the labor force.

12) In accordance with the policy of the NLD on workers affairs, there must be the right of the worker's unions and trade unions to participate and demand in the legal fold in its' proper accredited rights in the democratic system.

13) NLD has been striving for a genuine democratic state which will guarantee full workers' rights. On this auspicious 108th anniversary of the World's Workers' Day, the NLD calls upon all the workers from all walks of life to join hands with us in our struggle.

Central Executive Committee
National League for Democracy
9th waning day of Tagoo, 1359
May 1, 1997