[Myanmar] Economic crisis threatens minimum wage

[Myanmar] Economic crisis threatens minimum wage
10 Jan 2022

The minimum wage matters to Myanmar’s workers and there are now serious concerns that its level may drop due to the current economic crisis prompted by the military coup, Mizzima reports.

Under the current labour law in the country, the minimum wage for a basic worker in Myanmar is set at 4,800 kyat per day. The law was last amended in 2018 and requires the minimum wage to be amended every two years. But the wage rate was not amended in 2020 under the National League for Democracy (NLD) civilian government, a delay attributed to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the cautious opening of Myanmar to the outside world under the Thein Sein regime, efforts were reportedly made to put Myanmar in line with the international community when it came to labour laws and regulations. The 2013 minimum wage law was enacted on March 22, 2013, and promulgated on July 12. 

In 2015 the minimum wage was set at 3,600 kyat for eight hours of work per day and in 2018 it was revised to 4,800 kyat.

However, following the February 2021 military coup, factory workers have suffered and their wages have been affected.

Wages have been reduced from 4,800 kyat to 3,600 kyat under the directive of Yangon Division industry officials; the region where most of the factories and workshops are located and factories may be poised to implement the reduction.

News has leaked that the wage rate will drop to 3,600 kyat as a result of the outflow of foreign investment and the current political situation. This news originated from a factory in the Myasein Yaung industrial zone, Hlaing Thar Yar township, Yangon Division, a president of a workers union told Mizzima. 

The factory distributed an official notification letter stating that the change was to start on January 1, 2022.

The majority of workers reportedly said that the factories in Shwe Pyi Thar and Shwe Lin Ban industrial zones were also instructed to change if other factories changed the wages.

At present, the payment has not been reduced to 3,600 kyats but employers are watching one another and the outcome will be known later this month.

In response to the news and the controversy surrounding it, workers at several factories had made enquiries with their union representatives, an officer from the Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) said.

CMP factory workers in the key economic development sectors of the country are paid only 600 kyat per hour. If the rate of pay is adjusted to 3,600 kyat for eight hours of work per day, workers will only get 450 kyat per hour.

It is already hard to earn enough to support a family on such a low income, at a time when commodity prices are soaring.

Given the threat to workers’ income, the implementation of a cut in wages could spark a revolt, in an industry with troubled worker-employer relations.

Mizzima believes it would benefit all parties - workers, employers and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population - to hold a tripartite meeting to discuss the issue.

On December 27 Maung Maung Than - the military-appointed director-general of the Labour Directorate - announced that when adjusting the minimum wages it is not usual to reduce the declared fee, but stated that normally one would raise it, and the current 4,800 kyat is officially valid.

A workers’ union president, speaking to Mizzima under the condition of anonymity, said that he did not believe the announcements made by the Military Council concerning social security fees made in July 2021.

One day after the National Unity Government’s (NUG) July announcement that it was granting welfare benefits to workers and allowing an exemption for social security fees, the military council-owned Myawaddy news agency announced a six-month moratorium for social security fees during the pandemic period.

However, when it comes to the payroll, social security fees remain the same as before. “When I asked the relevant authorities, they said that it was just a news announcement, you have to pay the same as before, and thus we cannot trust their announcements," the union president said.

As we move further into the new year, workers’ attention will be focused on whether a drop in the minimum wage is about to come to pass.


Source: Mizzima

(Quote via original reporting)

The minimum wage matters to Myanmar’s workers and there are now serious concerns that its level may drop due to the current economic crisis prompted by the military coup, Mizzima reports.

Under the current labour law in the country, the minimum wage for a basic worker in Myanmar is set at 4,800 kyat per day. The law was last amended in 2018 and requires the minimum wage to be amended every two years. But the wage rate was not amended in 2020 under the National League for Democracy (NLD) civilian government, a delay attributed to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the cautious opening of Myanmar to the outside world under the Thein Sein regime, efforts were reportedly made to put Myanmar in line with the international community when it came to labour laws and regulations. The 2013 minimum wage law was enacted on March 22, 2013, and promulgated on July 12. 

In 2015 the minimum wage was set at 3,600 kyat for eight hours of work per day and in 2018 it was revised to 4,800 kyat.

However, following the February 2021 military coup, factory workers have suffered and their wages have been affected.

Wages have been reduced from 4,800 kyat to 3,600 kyat under the directive of Yangon Division industry officials; the region where most of the factories and workshops are located and factories may be poised to implement the reduction.

News has leaked that the wage rate will drop to 3,600 kyat as a result of the outflow of foreign investment and the current political situation. This news originated from a factory in the Myasein Yaung industrial zone, Hlaing Thar Yar township, Yangon Division, a president of a workers union told Mizzima. 

The factory distributed an official notification letter stating that the change was to start on January 1, 2022.

The majority of workers reportedly said that the factories in Shwe Pyi Thar and Shwe Lin Ban industrial zones were also instructed to change if other factories changed the wages.

At present, the payment has not been reduced to 3,600 kyats but employers are watching one another and the outcome will be known later this month.

In response to the news and the controversy surrounding it, workers at several factories had made enquiries with their union representatives, an officer from the Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) said.

CMP factory workers in the key economic development sectors of the country are paid only 600 kyat per hour. If the rate of pay is adjusted to 3,600 kyat for eight hours of work per day, workers will only get 450 kyat per hour.

It is already hard to earn enough to support a family on such a low income, at a time when commodity prices are soaring.

Given the threat to workers’ income, the implementation of a cut in wages could spark a revolt, in an industry with troubled worker-employer relations.

Mizzima believes it would benefit all parties - workers, employers and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population - to hold a tripartite meeting to discuss the issue.

On December 27 Maung Maung Than - the military-appointed director-general of the Labour Directorate - announced that when adjusting the minimum wages it is not usual to reduce the declared fee, but stated that normally one would raise it, and the current 4,800 kyat is officially valid.

A workers’ union president, speaking to Mizzima under the condition of anonymity, said that he did not believe the announcements made by the Military Council concerning social security fees made in July 2021.

One day after the National Unity Government’s (NUG) July announcement that it was granting welfare benefits to workers and allowing an exemption for social security fees, the military council-owned Myawaddy news agency announced a six-month moratorium for social security fees during the pandemic period.

However, when it comes to the payroll, social security fees remain the same as before. “When I asked the relevant authorities, they said that it was just a news announcement, you have to pay the same as before, and thus we cannot trust their announcements," the union president said.

As we move further into the new year, workers’ attention will be focused on whether a drop in the minimum wage is about to come to pass.


Source: Mizzima

(Quote via original reporting)

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