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Mizzima: Union activists held up Bu

Union activists held up Burmese ship at Calcutta Port

New Delhi, August 21, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

M.V. Pagan, a Burmese ship carrying timber logs, has been held up since 
yesterday evening at Calcutta Port by the trade union activists, demanding 
the Burmese government to recognize trade unionism in the country. Activists 
of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and port workers at 
Calcutta refuse to handle the Burmese ship as they claim workers and 
seafarers in Burma do not get their basic rights under the military junta 

In a telephone interview with Mizzima, Mr. Parbati Das from Calcutta Port 
Shramik Union said that when they inspected the ship, they found the 
condition of seafarers, all 22 Burmese nationals, very bad and the seafarers 
do not get even proper food, drinking water. "The wages they get are much 
far below than any standard", said Mr. Das.

"Mr. Htun Shwe, Master of the ship and local agent have agreed to give us a 
letter of undertaking that they would provide all the means and support to 
the Burmese seafarers", said Mr. Das.

The ship is expected to be allowed to sail out late evening today after the 
Master of the ship gives the undertaking to the union activists. "We have 
not had any official response from the Burmese authorities. But, our main 
intention is to make them aware of our solidarity and support extended to 
Burmese seafarers", said Ms. Nishi Kapahi from ITF Delhi Office.

"We have always been supporting the cause of the Burmese Seafarers' Union, 
which is in exile since trade unionism is not permitted in Burma. So, we 
have been supporting this Union. The main reason for supporting this Union 
is because of the substandard of the condition that our seafarers are 
subjected to', said Ms. Nishi Kapahi.

ITF activists at Vishaka Patnam port in Andra Pradesh organized similar 
boycott campaign in July this year. The ship, M.V. Chin Shwe Haw, was held 
up for nearly four hours by 26 trade union activists belonging to ITF on 3rd 
July morning and they then delivered a protest letter against the Burmese 
junta through the ship Master.

The international Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), a global body of more 
than five hundred transport workers' unions and International Confederation 
of Free Trade Union (ICFTU) have been active in support of trade union 
rights in Burma. It has protested the Burmese junta for not allowing the 
trade unionism and denying the rights of the workers in the country.

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