Labour watchdogs support Myanmar minimum wage

Labour watchdogs support Myanmar minimum wage

Myanmar factory workers shout slogans during a march against the proposed 3,600 kyat minimum wage, demanding 4,000 kyat, at Hlaing Thar Yar industrial zone, suburb of Yangon, on Sunday. (AP photo)
Myanmar factory workers shout slogans during a march against the proposed 3,600 kyat minimum wage, demanding 4,000 kyat, at Hlaing Thar Yar industrial zone, suburb of Yangon, on Sunday. (AP photo)

Two international labour watchdogs have pledged support for the Myanmar government’s proposed minimum wage of 3,600 kyat (100 baht) per day.

In separate letters to Myanmar’s Labour Ministry, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and the Fair Labour Association (FLA) urged the government to resist a request for an exemption to the minimum wage from the country’s garment manufacturers, DVB reported on Thursday.

“FLA affiliates commit to a standard of fair compensation that is incompatible with the proposal to exempt garment workers from the country-wide minimum wage,” said Jason Judd, FLA vice president of programmes.

In its 15 July statement, the ETI said, “ETI and its members support international calls for Myanmar’s new minimum wage to be applied countrywide. We have articulated this stance in a letter to the Myanmar government, urging it to resist the request for an exemption from the country’s garment manufacturers.”

“We wish to counter the claims of Myanmar’s garment manufacturers and employers associations that higher wages will dissuade foreign investors,'' it added.

The ETI and FLA claim to have the backing of 17 major international manufacturers, including sportswear giant Adidas, clothing retailer Gap Inc, as well as Tesco, H&M and Patagonia.

The current daily minimum wage is 3,000 kyat.

Earlier this month, the All-Myanmar Network of Trade Unions rejected the offer of a 3,600-kyat daily wage and called on workers to be prepared to take to the streets in protest. The Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar had announced its support for the proposal.

The two unions represent thousands of factory workers in the burgeoning garment sector, which is mostly built in the outlying areas of Yangon.

The Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, which represents factory owners, threatened to close down factories if the proposed 3,600 kyat per day minimum wage is approved by the Myanmar government.

The garment factory owners say the proposal is “unaffordable” and will put some 200,000 factory jobs at risk.

In June, around 30 Chinese and 60 South Korean-operated factories said they would shut down operations if the minimum wage of 3,600 kyat per day proposed by the government-led National Committee for Minimum Wage is approved.


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