15.03.2021 / News /
United Voices of the World (UVW) has sent an open letter of solidarity to the The Independent Federation of Myanmar Seafarers (IFOMS) saluting its role in organising the civil disobedience movement in Myanmar. Several IFOMS members visited the UVW offices in 2019 and told UVW members of their struggle and success in building their own independent union from scratch after the end of military rule.
In response to the military coup, IFOMS members have organised and trained thousands of activists in the civil disobedience movement. UVW recently sent a letter of solidarity to IFOMS stating that it stands ready to assist IFOMS and other independent unions in Myanmar and workers resisting the coup, in response, IFOMS said:
“Unlike previous citizen uprisings against the army, we now have independent unions in Myanmar and unions are at the forefront of the fight for democracy. Unions are organising strikes, boycotts and participating in demonstrations. However, the strikers are suffering serious financial hardship. Many are struggling to put food on the table for their families and buy basic necessities. Any kind of solidarity or strike fund that UVW could organise for these strikers would be a massive help to our struggle”.
In response to the call for assistance, UVW has today launched a hardship fund to support striking workers. Lee Cash, a UVW member who has supported and organised with IFOMS since its creation, said the following:
“In incredibly challenging circumstances back in 2014 an informal network of seafarers and political activists built their organisation from scratch. From the outset, they committed to creating an independent and democratic union open to all seafarers, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. IFOMS has secured millions of dollars for seafarers in compensation for breaches of their rights. Its leaders and activists were subjected to vicious physical attacks even before the military coup and these attacks continue. IFOMS, though, remains unbowed. The resistance to the coup continues”.
Petros Elia, UVW co-founder and lead organiser said: “We were honoured to host IFOMS at the UVW office in 2019. They generously gave their time to share and exchange ideas with UVW staff and members and we learnt that Like UVW, IFOMS is a direct action, grassroots, anti-racist, inclusive, independent, and democratic trade union, open to all seafarers, irrespective of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Solidarity is the backbone, the roots and the foundations of the union movement. We are proud to support our comrades in struggle in Myanmar and urge the union movement and beyond to help put food on the table for the strikers and their families so they may continue their fight for democracy”.
You can donate to the strike fund here.
Sunday March 14th was the bloodiest day of the coup so far, with 44 protestors being killed by state forces. UVW has also been alarmed to learn from contacts on the ground that an internet curfew has also been imposed. The strike has been launched in direct response to these latest events and in response to calls for assistance from IFOMS.
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