Monday, 15 October 2012

ITUC to open office in Myanmar

The Myanmar Times reports on the ITUC's plans to open an office in Myanmar:
The International Trade Union Confederation plans to open an office in Myanmar to help workers improve their skills, the confederation’s general secretary said last week.

“I’ll talk to the government to open our office in here to support the improvement of workers in Myanmar,” Ms Sharan Burrow said during a meeting with workers at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry on October 8.

“We’ll negotiate with the minister [for labour] as much as we can and we’ll explain why it is needed to have an ITUC office in Myanmar,” she said.

Ms Burrow said the ITUC is willing to help build the capacity of the country’s workers and educate them about workers’ rights.

The meeting was attended by UMFCCI chairman U Win Aung, as well as representatives of workers and farmers’ associations and land and labour rights activists.

Ms Burrow, who was recently removed from a government travel blacklist, said getting the chance to visit Myanmar and speak about workers’ rights was a “very special moment for me”.

“When I was leader of a trade union in Australia your government told me I was a very dangerous woman and I wasn’t allowed to come and visit. But I have met many of your brothers and sisters in countries around the world,” she said, adding that she was pleased the government had accepted ITUC as a constructive partner and not an opponent.
The ITUC is the world’s largest trade union federation and was formed on November 1, 2006. It has 175 million members in more than 150 countries.

“If we have decent work, it is good for business, it is good for workers, it is also good for the government,” she said, adding that workers also need to be able to join a trade union, earn a minimum wage and negotiate for fair pay.

U Maung Maung, head of the ITUC-affiliated Federation of Trade Unions of Burma, said he planned to meet with members of parliament to discuss a proposal to set a minimum wage.
“We will emphasise awareness-raising and organising trade unions in Myanmar. Workers need to be educated so that they can claim their basic rights in the right way,” he said.
U Win Aung said that UMFCCI members also supported the principle of providing “decent work” for Myanmar citizens.

“We want to inform you that we don’t tolerate business owners who exploit workers. We’ll also support the ITUC and we are ready to cooperate with your organisation for improving the work environment in Myanmar,” the UMFCCI chairman said.

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