August 19, 2016

WORKERS’ RIGHTS BOOST—Tripartite talks result in agreement on amending labour laws

A worker at a garment factory in Hlaingthaya Industrial Zone, Yangon. — Photo: Aye Min Soe
A worker at a garment factory in Hlaingthaya Industrial Zone, Yangon. — Photo: Aye Min Soe

GOVERNMENT representatives have agreed with factory owners and workers to amend labour laws and review standard terms in employment contracts, according to Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Securities.
U Win Shein, the Director-General of the Factories and General Labour Law Inspection Department told The Global New Light of Myanmar on Monday that all parties reached an agreement during the National Tripartite Dialogue Forum in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday.
The details of the amendments are yet to be decided, but the government has sought advices from labour organizations to make the changes aim to better protect the rights of workers, said Eaindara Kyi Tin, Legal Department of the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM).
There are weaknesses in Myanmar’s labour laws such as the Settlement of Labour Dispute Law, the Workers Compensation Act, the 2012 Labour Organisation Law, she added.
Two days before Friday’s tripartite forum, trade unions under CTUM held a conference involving international labour experts in Yangon. The conference focused on weaknesses in the country’s 19 labour laws and the impact of the national minimum wage, which came into effect on 1 September.
During the conference, Assistant General Secretary of CTUM Phyo Sandar Soe highlighted the weaknesses of collective bargaining agreement, which are also included in Settlement of Labour Dispute Law.
The trade unions said that the law is too weak because it only provides for fines rather than jail terms for factory bosses who breach the law.
Trade unions will reportedly discuss existing employment contract terms with government representatives in detail, with a particular emphasis on addressing the lack of a role for workers’ unions at factories.
The government issued an announcement in late August, urging owners of factories to sign an employment contract with their workers within 30 days of the employment. However this has not been made mandatory.
The tripartite forum in Nay Pyi Taw also focused solving current labour disputes through bipartite meeting between factory owners and representatives of workers’ unions first before meeting with the government.
A senior official at the Department of Employment told The Global New Light of Myanmar that workers who were sacked from factories when Myanmar’s new minimum wage was enacted on 1 September can receive help in finding new jobs at the department’s township offices.
According to department statistics, so far more than 1,000 laid-off workers have found new jobs.
There are currently around 27,000 job opportunities offered by 135 factories in 11 townships in Yangon Region.
“We are ready to help all workers find jobs, including those who lost their jobs as a result of the minimum wage being enacted,” the official said.


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