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Myanmar workers rally for fair labour laws

Thousands of workers marched in Yangon, Myanmar, to demand fair labor laws as parliament appeared ready to pass legislation that would diminish worker rights, the Solidarity Centre of AFL-CIO reports. Most of the workers work 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week in the industrial zones surrounding Yangon. They are paid a minimum wage of $3.20 a day. The country’s two largest unions led the march: the Confederation of Trade Unions–Myanmar (CTUM) and the Myanmar Industries, Craft and Services Trade Union Federation (MICS).

The unions pulled out of the official labor law reform process last month to protest two years of fruitless talks with the government and employers to bring Myanmar’s labor laws into compliance with international standards. Workers have waged dozens of strikes in recent months, protesting that the laws designed to protect them are broken.

New labor laws enacted in 2011 and 2012 gave workers the right to form unions for the first time in 50 years. Further reforms, including adoption of international labor standards, were promised to incentivize Western investors to do business in the country, where human rights abuses, including forced labor and child labor, have been widespread.

Union leaders fear that promises for further reforms will be broken and that the li

Photo by Confederation of Trade Unions–Myanmar (CTUM)

mited freedoms workers were granted earlier this decade will be largely taken away.


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