WORKERS from industrial zones in Yangon have decided to call for the dissolution of the Arbitration Council formed by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security to resolve disputes between employers and employees, the workers announced at a press conference on Wednesday.
The workers’ decision came after a meeting held at the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) in Hlaingthaya Township, Yangon.
“The council is biased in favour of employers, and it made decisions without representing employees at the lowest level. Therefore, we decided to call on the present government to dissolve the council,” said Daw Wint Theingi Soe, vice chairperson of the CTUM.
“If the current government turns a blind eye to our demands, we are committed to continuing our call for the dissolution of the council,” she added.
The Arbitration Council was formed in 2012 in accordance with Myanmar’s Arbitration Law and includes five members each from three stakeholder groups representing employers, employees and the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security.
“We don’t believe in the council anymore as the council made biased decisions, and no actions were taken against employers who ignored the council’s orders,” said U Tun Min Latt, a trade union leader from the North Shore garment factory in Hlaingthaya at the press conference.
“Without amending labour laws that are not in conformity with the present time, disputes between the two sides cannot be resolved,” advocate U Htay, who serve as a council member on behalf of the workers.
He stressed the need for legal amendments rather than biases in the council’s decision making, pointing out that the failure to implement resolutions at the township level has led to even more labour disputes.
According to sources, the ministry’s proposal to detain employers and employees who failed to adhere to the council’s decision was not given the green light by the parliament, which only approved a K1 million (US$773) fine for violators as a maximum sentence.
Deputy Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security U Htin Aung said actions are being taken against violators in accordance with laws and regulations as the parliament rejected the ministry’s proposal to send them to jail.
“As the council was formed in line with the law, the law can be amended in the parliament,” the deputy minister added.
Khant Ko Lin