The On the Job Training Program was initiated to help relieve the jobs problem surrounding the mine as well as build the necessary skills which would assist villagers to acquire working positions during the production phase of the mine. Wanbao wanted to hire as many people as possible going forward from the impacted villagers but the company had identified early that individuals who did not have the requisite skills to help them benefit from its construction phase. So we initiated a 5- month On the Job Training Program to address elements of this problem. The aim was that, as soon as the trainees completed their training and passed their tests successfully, they would then be given a contract and join Wanbao's labour pool starting at Grade 9, with $USD120/month starting salary, and enjoy the same benefits including promotions etc as all other Wanbao staff.
During the hiring phase, to identify suitable candidates Wanbao followed the provincial government's guidelines and set up a Trainee Selection Committee which includes members from all levels of the Myanmar governments as well as the Labor Bureau. Eligible candidates for the program came from the 26 villages that are impacted by the Letpadaung Copper Project. After a written test and interviewing process, 233 candidates were enrolled into the program starting from October 28th of 2013 to March 26th of 2014.
Wanbao is dismayed that since April 10, more than 200 on-the-job trainees, who completed 5 months of training program at Wanbao, have repeatedly demonstrated outside the Wanbao Camp, claiming to be Wanbao employees, and have not signed a labor contract with us, demanding that we double their starting wage.
We believe that their requests are unreasonable, particularly considering the fairness to other employees at Myanmar Wanbao and our sister company Myanmar Yangtse and also their subcontractors, whose employment policies are the same. However, we have tried to negotiate with them as we believe that they and the community will benefit greatly from the learning and skill acquisition they acquired as trainees. This skill is the one that we would like to build upon further once they become employees with us. For all these reasons and because we care for our community, we offered them the following three options:
Option 1: The training period remain 5 months as announced before. They will be employed by the Company at the first level of G9 with the starting salary of USD120/month. They will enjoy the same salary increase opportunities as other employees in accordance with the company policy. After they work for more than one and a half years (with 5 month's training period included) and pass the evaluation, their salary can be adjusted to the first level of G8, USD180/month.
Option 2: The training period will be extended to one and a half years, which means the trainees will continue the program for another 13 months. Upon finishing, those who pass the evaluation will be employed by the Company at the first level of Grade8 with the salary of USD180/month.
Option 3: If they give up any of the above options, they will be considered to give up any job opportunities offered by the Company.
Despite offering these options and incredible fair terms which are commensurate with their experience, industry standard and the community's needs, the On the Job Trainees have rejected them and have continued protesting. All the trainees have been absent from work for no good reasons since March 22nd of 2014. Up till May 9th, apart from seven officially employed members, all the other trainees have not yet come back to work. Since April 10th, we have now witnessed seven protests outside our camp carried out by the trainees. They wear our uniforms with the company's logo whilst protesting which were provided to them whilst they were training. They chant slogans, mislead the public and damage our reputation. They still make the same demands which we find unacceptable.
To date all our dealings with them have followed the letter of the law from their hiring and even till our current negotiations with them. Throughout these stages we have involved the relevant government organizations.
Based upon this, we would like to state the following on the record.
1. When the on-the-job trainees signed up for the training program, all of them accepted the terms and conditions for the future recruitment criteria, which included the position level and the corresponding salaries. After their demands of raising their starting salary, the Company reported this situation to the provincial government and agreed to an investigation led by Deputy Director of Factory and Labor Laws Inspection Bureau of Sagaing Division into this situation. Therefore, the hiring procedure was transparent, fair, justified and in line with laws and regulations.
2. During this whole process, Myanmar Wanbao has strictly abided by all Labor , Mining and relevant national laws and regulations when designing employment procedures and determining employees' rights and obligations. However, since the training program has terminated and the trainees have not yet entered into any formal labor contract with the Company, they are neither employees of Myanmar Wanbao nor trainees any more. As they have no legal relationship with the Company, they have no legal right to demonstrate in the name of the Company's trainees, wearing uniforms with company logo and raising unreasonable requirement to the Company. These conducts severely damaged the Company's reputation and disrupted social stability.
3. If such demonstrations continue to escalate, Wanbao is left with no choice but to resort to legal action in order to safeguard our Company's reputation
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