August 19, 2016

Garment industry bosses urged to take future industry opportunities into account in deciding minimum wage

Female workers at the production line of a garment factory. Photo: Aye Min Soe
Female workers at the production line of a garment factory. Photo: Aye Min Soe

Yangon, 5 July — The Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar has urged employers who last week voted against a proposed minimum wage of K3,600 for an eight-hour day to take economic opportunities over the next two to three years into consideration in determining the wage.
At a press conference Sunday held by the CTUM, U Maung Maung, chairman of the confederation, called on factory owners to cooperate with workers to boost productivity instead of disputing the proposed minimum wage, suggesting that doing so would help them adapt to the country’s changing situation in the next two to three years.
Garment industry bosses had offered a wage of K2,500 during the 22-23 June negotiation between employers and employees, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement during the talks sponsored by the government. More than 200 businessmen from 145 garment factories gathered at a meeting on Thursday and promised to send their objections to the National Minimum Wage Committee within two weeks.
During the meeting, about 30 factories with foreign investment expressed their intent to shut down in September if the proposed minimum wage takes effect on 1 September.
The garment industry bosses also suggested the government bear some of their burden by making arrangements for the construction of workers’ housing quarters and for ferry services for workers, and by giving tax breaks to garment businesses and assisting in the logistics of the garment industry.
The government’s minimum wage body issued a notification on the minimum wage proposal on 29 June and has invited proposals from organizations or individuals for protesting and amending the proposed minimum wage to the committee within two weeks.
On behalf of garment workers, Ma Tin Moe Khaing, secretary of the Hlinethaya Industrial Zone garment workers association, expressed understanding of the garment factory employers’ position in a letter sent to Korean factory owners.  She invited the employers to accept the proposed minimum wage, urging them to be in tune with the current reforms of the garment industry.
She also urged the employers to consider the plight of the workers as the government has already expressed its commitment to sustainability of the factories.—GNLM


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