Friday, 6 April 2012

Two articles on the formation of labour unions in Myanmar

An article from Mizzima published earlier in March states that Su Su Nway and workers at Tai Yi Footwear Factory in Hlaing Thar Yar are in the process of forming a union.

Workers at the Tai Yi footwear factory in Rangoon Region formed an unofficial trade union on Sunday.


Su Su Nway said that the workers were ready to face pressure from the government for forming an unofficial trade union without permission.

“We are not a political party,” she said. “We are real workers working in this factory. We formed the trade union to protect workers’ rights. We will provide them systematic training and the trade union will provide leadership in demanding their rights and presenting their grievances to the employer.”

A separate article from the Myanmar Times indicates that labour strikes are to be overseen by "labour federations".

The Labour Organisation Law (2011) came into force on March 9 and allows workers from any sector – except essential public services such as water, electricity, fire and health – to strike according to the rules of the relevant labour federation.

Labour federations are an executive committee with an odd number of members that range in size from seven to 15 people and are formed with the recommendation of not less than 20 percent of the members of region or state labour organisations.

Above the federations will be the Myanmar Labour Confederation and under the federations will be region or state labour organisations, township labour organisations and basic labour organisations for each trade or activity.

“If a basic labor organisation wants to strike it would need to get permission from the relevant labour federation. After that they can do the strike whenever – they don’t need to follow the procedures in the peaceful protest law of the Ministry of Home Affairs,” U That Naing Oo said.

The law states that labour issues will have to be filed through the basic labour organisations to a township conciliation body formed under the Trade Dispute Act. The workers can strike only if the township conciliation body is unable to solve the problem and it has permission from the applicable labour federation.

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