Dvb News Burmese today 2016Burmese News 2016
Burma has a booming apparel sector.
Discriminatory treatment of Burmese clothing manufacturers for their right was emphasized this past Monday after a trade unions head was sacked and employee hourly compensation at a plant that supplies H&M's worldwide apparel label was overlooked for more than a year. In Hangzhou Hundred-Tex garment company, a Rangoon suburb plant, the workmen demonstrated for the first time that their excess hours were to be remunerated in December last year.
They hadn' been salaried for 15 month. Despite Sweden's H&M - which last year had global revenues of more than $25 billion - having a nationwide surveillance system, union campaigners say the big clothing label has neglected to identify a plant in its delivery line that has not worked time.
Burmese clothing manufacturers receive a basic salary of 3,600 Kyat ($2.65) per day or an annual salary of 67 USD, making the nation the second lower in the area, ahead of only Bangladesh. The Hangzhou Hundred Tex plant employees were finally repaid with the help of the township's own dispute resolution service for only six months' extra hours, the most they could legally use.
Another rally took place in January when the factory's trade unions head, Thet Paul Oo, was dismissed. The plant's managers informed Myanmar Trade Unions Confederation (CTUM) that Thet Paul Oo was sacked for saying goodbye without a permit. Wrongly, however, the workmen felt they were being aimed at because he was a trade unions head.
Federal President Maung Maung says that H&M officials replied and tried to solve the case with the plant owner in Shanghai, but were not successful. By 9 February, the workmen "saw nothing happened - nowhere - so they exploded," says Maung Maung. China's newspapers say that workmen have beaten the China plant managers and also destroyed machines, but the workmen at the plant do not.
MAUNg-Maung says the case exposes the issues in Burma's industrial disputes resolution trial. However, he added that this tendency of unjustified dismissals of trade unions is becoming more and more frequent in the sector. It is a topic, says Alex Moodie, Progressive Voice Research Commissioner, who published a December review in which he argues that Burma's employment laws do not provide adequate protection for workers' welfare in Burma.
"It is particularly worrisome, as H&M are not flawless, but have processes in place for trades union, CSO or journalist to collect information about their practice. This does not apply to most trademarks and it is therefore much more challenging to supervise the violation of labor rights," said Moodie.
On the basis of 199 employee surveys at the clothing plant, Progressive Voice found in its "Raising the Bottom" survey that only 33 per cent of the employees surveyed had a labour force in their plant and only 8 per cent were members. 13% of employees said that there was a labour organization in their company, but that it was either supervised or founded by the employers.
The most common cause of insecurity was the anxiety of being dismissed by plant proprietors or threatening to be dismissed for members. Burma?s apparel sector is "not yet perfected, but still in its infancy," says Jacob Clere in the European Union-funded SMART program, an effort that works with 33 plants to improve working conditions for employees and companies.
Under Burma's former army rule, the use of autonomous labor was banned for more than 50 years. Clothing was once a boom industry in the 1990s, but in 2003 it fell sharply when it was subject to severe westerly recession. According to Clere, more than 300 plants had to be closed and tens of thousand employees killed because clothing export to many West European nations was cut.
Burma's textile, apparel and shoe industry provides nearly 750,000 workplaces, and in the last five years these goods have almost nearly doubbled in terms of sales. The Myanmar Guard Manufacturers Association (MGMA) reports that apparel sales in 2015 amounted to $1.46 billion, or 10 per cent of the country's total income from garments sales.
But unionists say the increasing investments are too much geared to promote the "Made in Myanmar" label and attract more overseas companies to set up plants in the state. She' s riding her bicycle to the Panda Textile Plant and as soon as she gets there, a lot of workmen are gathering around her. There is a ringing alarm that causes a flow of people to leave the premises when the shift is over and a new group of employees pass through the door to take their sentries.
It is a routines that Zarchi Win is used to, but since the beginning of February she is no longer allowed to go on the site with the other working-people. In 2016, Zarchi Win introduced a worker protests that took eight-month. It was triggered when the company was privatized; the employment agreements were re-negotiated and reduced to two-year-agreements.
Once the workmen had initialled the new agreements, the plant asked them to work six instead of five per week, which the staff had not initially stated in their agreements. Then the Mandalay Division administration set up a negotiation commission, and after three month of discussion, the workmen broke off their outcry.
Aside from Zarchi Win and another labor activist, the workmen got their work back. Last year's "Under pressure" survey, which surveyed 1,200 staff at 39 locations, found 70 per cent of those surveyed discriminating against labor market-leading and activist unionists in the areas of salaries, promotions, overtime and contract layoff.
Work inspection schemes, mediation and mediation services that make suggestions for the re-employment of workers already exists in the Act, but one of the main issues is the enforceability of the corresponding laws, says Rory Mungoven of the International Labor Organization (ILO). Whilst her case has not made a headline in the way that the Hangzhou Hundred-Tex turmoil has made, it is one of the longest ongoing labor conflicts in Burma's apparel and textile industry.
From 2014 there were a series of rallies in the city of Pandah, during which the company moved ownership and older people were no longer assured that they would be able to work until they were 60 years old. In the protest, two older workmen were killed. The Ethnic People Development Partnership head Mar Mar Mar Oo, who assisted the pandas during the protest, says there must be more protection for workers' liberties.
She found in her earlier investigations at Oxfam that the employees work up to 11 working hour a working week, six working nights a working hour - at a salary below the 3,600 Kyatimum. Opinions on trade unionism are divided between domestic and international plant operators. Maple Fabrics' Burma businesswoman Winnie Khine, who has nearly 900 employees, says she likes to foster strong communications and confidence with her employees through frequent get-togethers.
Mung Maung of CTCUM is encouraging the entire labor market to implement emergency reform to educate Burmese labor law workmen about their right. It says that if industries invest in employees, the number of labor conflicts will decrease. On a regular basis she goes to the plant and talks to the employees, their former counterparts.
While she waits to see if she gets her work back, she says she will keep working as a trade unionist.