Myanmar labour unions seek minimum wage hike

Myanmar workers are seen in Dawei. Labour unions is pushing for daily minimum wages not to lower than 5,600 kyat. (Photo by Pattanapong Hirunard)

A group of 13 labour unions and labour rights organisations agreed to push for daily minimum wages not lower than 5,600 kyat (137 baht) as debates on the issue heats up ahead of the self-imposed deadline of the National Committee for Minimum Wages to come up with a proposal by December.

“The rate 5,600 kyat we asked are mostly same with the current wages if we add all the other remuneration received by the workers to the daily wages of 3,600 kyat so the rate that we ask would not be too much for the employers,” the  on Thursday quoted lawyer HTay as saying at a press conference.

The lawyer is the legal advisor of All Myanmar Trade Union Network, one of 13 organisations under the Cooperation Committee for Minimum Wages and Labour Rights. 

Workers have been paid generally between 160,000 and 170,000 kyat monthly, including the basic wage of 3,600 kyat per day.

“We can’t ask for other fees such as skill fees, bonus, service fees and other fees that are not required of the employers,” the lawyer said.  “We would be paid those fees if employers were generous. So, all fees including basic wages of 3,600 kyat will be prescribed as minimum wages. So, employers don’t need to add more.”

The network also said the shortage of electricity, expensive price of land, very high tax and transportation costs are the main things in Myanmar that can prevent the development of industries and attract foreign investment.

So, the government must take responsibility to solve these issues for the employers, it said. 

Tun Tun Naing, joint secretary of Cooperation Committee of Trade Unions, which is a member of the group said the meaning of minimum wages has not been prescribed exactly at the Minimum Wage Laws in Myanmar.

He also said that the skill fees and service allowance fees must be considered a part of the daily minimum wages.

“We workers don’t want any fees that will be given by employers out of their generosity. We only want the that the minimum wages be enforced efficiently,” U Tun Tun Naing said.

“We ask the Pyitaungsu Hlattaw to define the exact meaning for minimum wages,” he added.

The Cooperation Committee for Minimum Wages and Labour Rights accused the labour minister for ignoring the National Committee for Minimum Wages because he proposed the new minimum wage between 4,000 and 4,800 kyat, although the states and regional committees proposed the rates to be between 4,000 and 6,400 kyat.

Earlier in October, the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar asked the government to set 6,600 kyat as the new minimum wage per day.

Current daily minimum wage of 3,600 kyat or 450 kyat per hour was set in 2015. The minimum wages was supposed to be reviewed every two years.

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