WASHINGTON – The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) have expressed concern that labour regulations in Myanmar don’t meet internationally accepted standards. In a letter to the Myanmar government they have urged it to ensure the current labour reform process results in laws and that are consistent with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation, “creating a strong foundation for mature industrial relations and strong growth for the garment and footwear industries in Myanmar.”
The letter says: “Reports from social partners in Myanmar indicate that recent drafts prepared by the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population, and by the Assembly of the Union, remain far from compliant with the minimum standards of the ILO fundamental conventions.
“We urge your government to work with the social partners and the ILO to ensure that any final laws comport with international norms and best practices. And we urge the government to establish the appropriate capacity to enforce those laws. With the right laws and procedures in place, and effective implementation, Myanmar can distinguish itself and attract responsible businesses who can create long‐term relationships in Myanmar.”
The AFFA’s move comes at a time of significant reform in Myanmar’s labour market, with the country’s National Committee for the Minimum Wage this week setting Myanmar’s daily minimum wage at K4800 (US$3.60) or K600 per hour for an eight-hour day despite objections from both labour and employers. This is a 33 per cent increase on the previous minimum wage.
Employers had warned that a K4800 basic wage would force small- and medium-sized companies out of business, while worker groups claimed K4800 would not be enough to sustain families amid steadily rising prices for basic commodities.
Comparable minimum wages in the region for garment sector hubs include US $80.28 per month for Myanmar, US$140 in Cambodia and US$147.47 in Vietnam.