4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Myanmar

The ITUC affiliate in Myanmar is the Confederation of Trade Unions - Myanmar (CTUM).

There have been positive developments in Burma/Myanmar over the past year, though much work remains to be done. In September 2012, the Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (FTUB), now Federation of Trade Unions – Myanmar (FTUM), and its leaders were permitted to return to the country following decades in exile and to continue their trade union activity. FTUM General Secretary Maung Maung has established an office in Yangon and, in roughly six months, the Federation counts over 130 affiliated unions with 18,000 members.

In practice

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Union leaders prosecuted for organising peaceful protest march 21-02-2020

Eight trade union leaders were prosecuted for organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. peaceful protests in February 2019. They were charged for violating the implementation rules to the Law on Peaceful Assembly by the Mandalay authority, which prohibits non-Mandalay citizens from organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. public rallies in the city.
More than 2,500 people in Yangon and another 1,000 in Mandalay participated in two rounds of protest actions calling on the government to engage in meaningful consultation with workers.
The first took place on 3 February to press for thirteen demands, including freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
, the development of a labour court, and the lifting of restrictions on construction workers joining trade unions. The Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) and the Myanmar Industries Crafts and Services Trade Union Federation (MICS-TUF) then applied to hold a second rally, but the public authorities rejected their application on 16 February on the grounds that the applicants were not from the Mandalay district.
The procession went ahead on 17 February, but was disrupted by police and the leaders questioned. The procession had to be called off when the police blocked the unions from approaching the assembly point. The action remained peaceful. Later, however, eight union leaders were officially charged under the Right to Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly Act. The eight included Phyo Sanda Soe, assistant general secretary of the CTUM, and Thaung Nyunt, president of the Mining Workers’ Federation of Myanmar, as well as six MICS-TUF leaders.
CTUM leaders had urged the government to consult meaningfully with workers and implement the recommendations of the 2018 ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Direct Contact Mission. The processions were organised after the parliament repeatedly failed to engage seriously with the unions.
The ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Committee of Experts on the Applications of Conventions and Recommendations had specifically warned that the Law on the Right to Peaceful Procession and Peaceful Assembly could give rise to serious restrictions on trade union rights.
After a year’s trial, the president of MWFM was found not guilty while the other seven leaders were fined for MK10,000 and freed on 21 February 2020.

Workers injured during a picket 01-10-2019

A manager from a labour hire company drove his car into a picket line on 1 October 2019, injuring several workers. He also attempted to beat a worker with a stick.
Around 400 workers from the Chinese-owned Unitedtex Overseas Garment factory in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Township walked out on 26 September to demand higher wages and improved conditions. The workers issued 17 demands that included the payment of an additional 10,000 kyats (US$6.5) for not taking leave during the month. They also insisted that their wages not be cut when they do take leave, and that their leave allowance be calculated based on length of service, in accordance with the law.
Other demands were that all new workers at the factory be paid the minimum daily wage of 4,800 kyats, that workers who suffer a death in the family be given a week’s paid leave and that management arrange for sufficient ferries for all workers to get to the factory.

The Chinese man reportedly drove his car at speed into the striking workers at the factory entrance. Apparently, he was angry that the workers he recruited for the factory were sent back to him due to the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, said Ko Aung Ko Ko Zaw, the chairman of the factory’s workers’ union. About five workers recruited by the Chinese man had been turned away by the factory.

Trade union leaders charged for organising a strike15-09-2019

In early September 2019, police brought charges against seven trade union leaders and a civil society leader for their role in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
over labour rights abuses at the Myanmar Knitting Factory in the Pathein Industrial Zone.
Over 1,000 workers took part in the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, making 45 demands, including concerns over health and safety, wages and benefits, and excessive working hours. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
ended after all demands were agreed following negotiations between worker representatives and factory management.
The police, however, decided to continue with pressing charges against the eight labour activists under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, which the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
has stated can lead to restrictions on trade union rights.

Strikers attacked at handbag factory28-06-2019

Striking workers at the Chinese-owned Hong Ri handbag factory in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar township were attacked at 11 p.m. on 28 June 2019 by 20 men wielding swords, knives and slingshots. Twenty workers were injured, six seriously, and one female worker suffered a miscarriage in the assault. Police arrived but took no action against the attackers.
Four hundred workers had gone on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
the previous day after the factory owner repeatedly refused to implement provisions of the employment contract.  The workers said they asked the factory to provide enough toilets and safe drinking water because the factory has only three toilets for 500 workers and the water pipes run through a polluted drain. They also made ten demands concerning labour rights and factory facilities. 
A union representative, Ko Ye Thura, said they believed factory management had hired the armed thugs, who arrived at the factory in two vehicles and attacked the striking workers at around 11 p.m. after they had talked with factory officials.
Ma Thin Thin Swe, another union representative, said that the police who showed up at the scene refused to arrest the gang members because there were too many of them.  The union leaders also said that the police allowed the gang members to leave the scene after talking with them.
The Industrial Workers Federation filed a complaint with the police and demanded that the Yangon regional government take action against the factory owner.

Prison sentence for union leaders for organising protest 01-04-2019

On 1 March 2019, the chairman and five other leaders and members of the union of workers at the Hotel Tharabar Gate in Myanmar’s Bagan Archeological Zone were convicted of attempting to hold a peaceful protest march after police destroyed the union’s solidarity camp in December 2018. The six trade unionists were each sentenced to one month’s imprisonment and arrested immediately after the verdict was pronounced.
Union members at the Hotel Tharabar Gate had faced management aggression since they first registered their union in 2015. An initial attempt to dismiss union chairman Ko Nay Myo Win was defeated through collective action. Unions at other hotels in the famous tourist destination banded together to form the area-wide union Bagan-Nyaung Oo (HLOB), electing Nay Myo Win as chairman. In 2018 management again dismissed the union chairman, along with 11 other workers, including two members of the union executive and seven active union members. HLOB responded with a vigorous protest campaign; beginning in October, union members and their families and supporters continuously maintained a solidarity camp on public space.
After the police brutally attacked and destroyed the camp in December 2018, the union organised its protest march to the Mandalay regional government office. The police forcibly dispersed the attempted march, leading to the arrest of 13 union members and supporters, and the subsequent trial of six of them on 1 March 2019.
The six imprisoned union representatives served their full sentence and were released on 29 March 2019.

Violence and arrests during strike by workers at Hotel Tharabar Gate 10-02-2019

Workers at the Hotel Tharabar Gate, located in the centre of one of the most popular tourist destinations in Myanmar, began a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on October 12, demanding the reinstatement of 12 workers who had been dismissed on August 24. The dismissed workers included the union chairperson, two union executive officers and seven active union members. Union members have claimed that the dismissals are part of a broader effort to undermine the workers’ right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.
Hotel and tourism workers led by HLOB, the hotel and tourism workers’ federation, marched through the historical sites of Bagan in support of the striking workers. Management responded by threatening the non-renewal of one-year fixed-term contracts that were due to expire in October. A camp was established at the site of the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and has been maintained by the striking workers and their supporters.
On 12 December 2018, approximately 100 police, acting on the orders of local authorities, destroyed the solidarity camp. On December 13, the striking workers attempted to march in protest from the Hotel Tharabar Gate to the Mandalay Region Government Office. Armed police dispersed the rally and arrested 13 people, including seven union members.

Conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
meetings involving local and national government representatives have so far failed to achieve reinstatement of the victimised trade unionists. At these meetings, the government authorities have proven ineffectual in the face of management’s ongoing refusal to respect the workers’ right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.

On 10 February 2019, the union held a rally in front of the hotel to demand the reinstatement of dismissed union members and leaders and full respect for trade union rights at the hotel. The IUF submitted a formal complaint against the government in December with the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
’s Committee on Freedom of Association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
.

More workers dismissed at garment factory following protests21-01-2019

Prestige Garment Co in Kandal Province unlawfully dismissed four more workers between 8 and 25 January 2019 after they joined a protest over the December 22 sacking of a worker representative who was trying to form a union. The four were fired after joining protests against the sacking of Houn Sovit, who had been chosen by the workers to form an in-house union at the factory.
The 24 December protest saw 100 workers demanding that the worker representative be reinstated and that the company acknowledge their right to form an independent union independent union A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.

See yellow union

. The workers were also demanding that the company should extend their work contracts from two months to six months. Workers at the garment factory have complained about the company consistently blocking attempts by the workers to form a union, and that these dismissals are in clear violation of their right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.

Union members unlawfully terminated in Yangon knitting factory08-01-2019

More than 100 workers at a Chinese-owned factory in Yangon went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
after a labour dispute labour dispute See industrial dispute with management resulted in the sacking of seven workers on December 24. The striking workers at Cixing Knitting Factory called on the management to rehire the seven workers and to obey labour laws and labour agreements. The workers said the seven workers were sacked on 24 December without warning amid demands by the workers for management to honour the terms of their labour agreement. The workers blocked the main entrance of the factory and vowed to remain until the seven were rehired.

Ko Tun Tun, chairman of the union and one of the seven workers dismissed on 24 December, said management failed to obey the labour agreement that was signed by factory officials and the workers in September 2018, and that his employment was terminated while the dispute was being mediated.

The striking workers called on the government to take action against the factory for repeatedly violating the labour agreement and the employment contract. They also asked the government to take action against the factory for violating the International Labour Organization International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
’s Convention 87 on the freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and protection of the right to organise.

At a meeting mediated by the township’s labour arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
committee on 2 January, the factory management agreed to the union’s 17 demands, including the reinstatement of the union officials. However, the factory dismissed the seven union leaders again on Monday 7 January, leading to solidarity action by other factories in the area, led by the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM). At a second meeting of the labour arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
committee on 8 January, factory officials promised to rehire the seven workers.

Violence against striking Fu Yuen Garment Co Ltd workers 05-11-2018

On Monday 15 October 2018, dozens of workers employed at the Fu Yuen Garment Co Ltd, a Chinese owned textile factory in the Dagon Seikkan township on the outskirts of Yangon, were seriously wounded when a group of about 40 armed “thugs” attacked the protesting workers with wooden sticks and metal bars. Riot police were called to contain the escalating violence at the scene; however, no arrests were made.
Hundreds of workers from the factory had been on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
since 21 August, which was the day after 30 workers, all of whom were union members, were dismissed from their employment for organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 14 August demanding increased overtime payments and better working conditions. The dismissal of the workers was politically motivated, and was a deliberate attempt to reduce the influence of the union committee in the factory.
On 5 November 2018, the workers ended their 72-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
after signing an agreement with management and agreeing to resume work.

Workers at LIA garment factory dismissed for striking 01-04-2018

In November 2017, union members at the LIA company staged a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to protest their dismal working conditions and the total absence of dialogue between management and union. Among other demands, they called for the management to improve safety and health conditions (including better lighting), to stop discriminating between unionised and non-unionised workers and to engage in discussion with workers’ representatives or union leaders before setting production targets or imposing transfers on the production line.
The Yangon Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Body was charged with settling the dispute, and an agreement was found by which the employer accepted six out of eight demands but refused to sign a written agreement. The Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Body ordered LIA management to sign the agreed six points and to start negotiations with the workers’ representatives on the remaining two points.
However, instead of abiding to the terms of the conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
agreement, the management of the company dismissed 73 workers, including the union leaders, between January and March 2018 and threatened the rest of the workers that “there would be more workers dismissed”. All dismissed workers are demanding their immediate reinstatement.

Garment worker fired for forming a union, and 280 more for going on strike in his support07-08-2017

A worker was fired on 7 August 2017 for forming a union at the DJY Knitting Myanmar factory in industrial zone 3, Hlaing Tharyar. The factory claimed the leader committed several infractions including allegedly holding a meeting with the other workers in order to create the labour union without prior notice, “enticing” other workers to go on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, and contacting the human resources department asking for paid leave for the workers.

The day he was fired 280 of the factory’s 400 workers went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in protest. They submitted a list of demands, many of which the factory agreed to in an arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
process. The factory then ordered the workers back to work, but they stayed out on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
because their two principal demands had not been met: the right to form an independent trade union and the reinstatement of their leader.

The workers persisted with their demands and their strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and were dismissed on 23 August 2017.

Union busting dismissals at bakery08-03-2017

Management at the Good Morning Bakery factory in the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone (4) dismissed 184 workers on 8 March 2017. The factory claimed that there was not enough work for them. In reality the work, and the machines to do it, had been moved to two other Good Morning Bakery factories, where there was no union to represent the workers.
At the factory where the dismissals took place, the union was very active, and regularly pressed for the respect of the workers’ rights according to the law. The factory union’s chair pointed out that most of the union executive committee members and activists were on the list of workers to be retrenched.
The union called a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in protest at the dismissals on 9 March, which was widely supported. Workers continued to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
following the company’s decision to contest a 1 April arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
tribunal decision calling for reinstatement. In the course of the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, workers from nearby food processing and garment factories marched to the workers’ picket to show their support.
They called off the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and returned to work on 10 April following an agreement brokered by the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Local and Overseas Employment. All workers wanting to return to work were reinstated, and negotiations continued for the four union leaders who were not initially allowed to return.

Garment factory dismisses union leader, after it bargained in bad faith30-01-2017

On 30 January 2017, union president Thet Paing Oo was dismissed from the Hundred Tex Garment factory in Yangon, Myanmar when he returned from sick leave with a medical certificate. Workers believe he was targeted because of his union activities.

The garment workers were involved in a long-running dispute with management at the Chinese-owned factory. An agreement between management and the union, backed by the Confederation Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), was reached in December 2016. It soon became clear that the company had acted in bad faith, however.

Hundred Tex Garment did not uphold its promise of paying the overtime owed or making agreed improvements to working conditions. Management also refused to set up a workplace coordination committee, as required by Myanmar labour dispute labour dispute See industrial dispute settlement law.

The workers went back out on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
after Thet Paing Oo’s dismissal, and H&M, for whom the factory supplies, tried repeatedly to find a solution to the conflict. IndustriALL and H&M had signed a global framework agreement in September 2015 with IndustriALL global union aimed at protecting the labour rights of the 1.6 million workers in H&M’s global supply chain.

After a three-week strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, Hundred-Tex Garment finally agreed to pay the daily minimum wage of 3,600 kyat (USD 2.70), uphold labour laws on overtime and reinstate Thet Paing Oo.

Textile company persistently refused to negotiate new collective agreement15-01-2017

A dispute that began at Panda textiles in 2013 dragged on into 2017 as the employer repeatedly stalled negotiations. The dispute began after the private company took over operations from the Ministry of Industry, and workers complained that the change had led to an abuse of their rights.

A negotiating team formed by the Mandalay regional government to mediate between owners and workers assembled a list of 28 specific demands in November 2016, but a major sticking point was that Panda refused to re-hire four labour leaders fired during a protest in 2015 in which 600 labourers camped in front of the factory.

The two sides came close to signing a new labour contract in early January 2017, but the factory owners said they needed to take another look at planned incremental rises in workers’ salaries, overtime earnings, and annual leave.

Factory owners continued to refuse to reinstate the four dismissed workers’ leaders, and further negotiations were cancelled at the last minute.

Myanmar still a long way from respecting trade union rights05-12-2016

After decades of dictatorship, Myanmar’s new democracy has a long way to go to ensure the full respect of fundamental rights, including trade union rights.
A report published at the beginning of December 2016 entitled “Raising the Bottom: A Report on the Garment Industry in Myanmar”, revealed the extent to which labour rights are abused in the country’s garment industry. The report was based on interviews with 199 workers from 62 garment factories, as well as owners, trade unionists and other stakeholders, from late February to the end of April 2016.

It showed serious problems persist with long working hours, low pay, poor working conditions, including health and safety standards, and sexual harassment, among others. It was difficult for workers to organise, owing to serious flaws in labour legislation that restrict the freedom to join and form trade unions. Many workers were deterred by the threat of dismissal for joining a union. Pyi Paing Ko Ko, director of Let’s Help Each Other, a labour rights NGO, said that factory owners sometimes ignore the decisions of the Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council when it comes to disputes, because the penalties were too low.

Coincidentally, Industriall global union organised a series of workshops from 2 to 5 December 2016 on union building, gender and precarious work, attended by the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) and the Mining Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM). It was noted that dismissals of trade unionists and union leaders are a wide-ranging problem. Employers are known to publish names of dismissed trade union leaders on their websites, in effect blacklisting them from future employment. It was also said that many of the problems faced by unions relate to the use of standard one-year contracts, which are frequently used to get rid of union leaders when their contract ends.

Arrests and prison sentences against workers marching to defend their rights24-10-2016

On 18 May 2016, police arrested over 70 workers taking part in a protest march. The protesters had been marching for about three weeks from northern Sagaing Region, where around 100 workers had recently been fired from Myanmar Veneer and Plywood Private Ltd (MVPPL) for demanding overtime pay. They were appealing to the government to directly intervene to reinstate the unfairly dismissed workers and to recognise their newly formed union. They had hoped to take their demands directly to the government but they were told to halt at milepost 289 along the Yangon- Mandalay highway or else face police action. Determined to press ahead, the workers moved onward, but before they could reach Nay Pyi Taw’s Tatkon township, they were blocked by about 200 police officers. After a stand-off that lasted several hours, the officers began their arrests. They claimed they tried not to use force, although reporters at the scene witnessed the demonstrators being forcefully grabbed, lifted up and carried into prison vans.

Fifty-one protesters were initially charged, but most were later released and charges were only retained against 15 of them. The 12 men and three women were facing charges of unlawful assembly and sedition. The court later dismissed the sedition charges against the three women.

On 24 October 2016, the court found the defendants guilty on all charges. The men were sentenced to five months imprisonment in total — two months each for the unlawful assembly charges, to be served concurrently, and three months for sedition. The three women were sentenced to two months under the two unlawful assembly charges. In view of the time already served in custody, the women were to be released immediately, and the men had three weeks left to serve.

Unfair dismissal of union activists at textile factory highlights ineffective system 10-10-2016

Ten members of the Myanmar Industries, Crafts and Services (MICS) Trade Union Federation were dismissed over the course of a week in early October 2016 from the Sein Kabar textile factory. A spokesperson for MICS said there had been no grounds for their dismissal and that the real reason was to undermine the union.

On 10 October, workers from Sein Kabar were joined by employees of the Fu Xing Brothers company in a protest demonstration to demand the reinstatement of the Sein Kabar employees. They also demanded changes to what they deemed as anti-union policies at the Fu Xing Brothers company, calling for more serious penalties for employers who break the law, including jail time and operating bans.

Myanmar trade unions have frequently complained that the system of labour dispute labour dispute See industrial dispute settlement is ineffective because it is too easy for employers to ignore arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
council rulings, as the penalties for defying them are too low to serve as a deterrent.

Mass dismissal of striking garment workers and refusal to abide by arbitration ruling21-09-2016

The Japanese-owned Sakura garment factory dismissed 316 workers who went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 29 July 2016 over production quotas they found impossible to meet. At the end of August, the Yangon Region Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council ordered the factory to rehire the dismissed workers with compensation for wages lost during the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, and to revoke the rise in the production quota.

Instead of following the ruling, the factory owners decided to appeal the decision to a higher council. The central Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council upheld the ruling on 12 September, as far as the reinstatement was concerned, but did not address the question of lost income or the key issue in the dispute, the production quotas. The second ruling divided the workers. On 17 September about half of the protesters decided to return to the factory production line. But 171 workers kept the protest going, dissatisfied with the Arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
Council’s failure to resolve the question of production quotas.

On 21 September, members of the Hlaing Tharayar township branch of the National League for Democracy arranged negotiations between the factory officials and remaining protesters. The factory agreed to allow the protesting workers to resume their jobs at the factory with the former, baseline production targets. Factory officials also promised compensation for the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
period and to obey all labour laws going forward.

Sadly, within a week the Sakura factory had gone back on its promises, insisting that workers stick to the production targets that had triggered the initial dispute. They were back to square one.

Blacklisted for union activity15-08-2016

Workers’ representatives at the Hla Won Htet Tha garment factory in the Shwe Lin Ban industrial zone said in August 2016 that factory owners had distributed a black list black list A list of workers compiled by and circulated among employers identifying union members and activists who are to be boycotted or otherwise penalised. among employers of 85 workers who had led protests at the factory. The workers concerned had called two protest marches when the owners closed the factory on 25 June, leaving wages unpaid. “When our workers apply at other garment factories, factory officials check their names against the list they got from Hla Won Htet Tha,” said Ma Zin Mar Swe, a workers’ representative at the factory.

They were concerned they would never find another job again, given the experience of other trade union activists who had found themselves black listed. Former union chair Ko Kyaw Kyaw Myint said that he had applied for jobs at more than 70 garment factories in every industrial zone in Shwe Pyi Thar, Hlaing Tharyar and Mingaladon townships over the previous eight months. None would give him a job. Ko Kyaw Kyaw Myint and five of his members were dismissed in 2015 by the Han Jen garment factory in Shwe Pyi Thar township when they raised questions about salaries after minimum daily wage legislation came into force, and led a protest of over 1000 workers.

Ko Sai Yu Maung, an activist with Action Labour Rights, was transferred and fired by a bakery in Hlaing Tharyar township for trying to organise a union. He had been fired with compensation from his previous job for trying to organise. Then all the other factories in the same industry that he applied to turned him down without giving a reason. He had been warned by a township labour official that he would be blacklisted if he kept supporting labour rights.

Poor law enforcement, old attitudes and inexperience slows progress on trade union rights31-12-2015

The Labour Organisation Law and the Labour Dispute labour dispute See industrial dispute Settlement Law introduced in 2012 marked a major turning point in Myanmar, but poor implementation of these laws means that, in practice, employers who choose to discriminate against workers who seek to exercise their rights can do so with impunity. An ITUC report on foreign direct investment in Myanmar/Burma published in October 2015 noted that workers and labour activists are still being threatened, intimidated or dismissed by employers.

The Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar (CTUM) has organised an impressive number of workers, and by November 2015 had 49,000 members and some 640 affiliates. In an historic move, the CTUM received official registration on 23 July 2015. However, trade unions are still in their infancy. Workers lack knowledge on the role of trade unions, trade unions’ lack resources, training and understanding of the laws, and trade union leaders lack capacity in industrial negotiations and collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
. When Workplace Coordinating Committees and Conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
Bodies, the instruments for collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
, are formed, most worker organisations do not know anything about them - when or where they have been founded or by whom. Dispute resolution procedures have proved ineffective. Furthermore, agreements reached between employers and workers through the conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
process are not always respected and are not enforced as binding agreements.

Nor is it always easy for a union to become officially registered, despite legislative changes. Though required to act on a registration application within 30 days, for example, registrars can take significantly longer, or invent new requirements not found in the law or rules.
Once created, unions still have to deal with the behaviour of employers, especially factory owners, who are still accustomed to the old ways of dealing with workers’ dissent. This has resulted in clashes and in retaliation against union leaders with the dismissal of labour representatives and workers for their union activities.

Another major obstacle to the full enjoyment of workers’ rights and specifically trade union rights has been forced labour. Although progress has been made, former President U Thein Sein did not live up to his commitment to eliminate the practice by 2015. At the same time, the increasing use of temporary workers and labour contractors, as well as inadequate labour law enforcement by government of new laws, risks replacing military-extracted forced labour with new forms of labour exploitation.

Union leaders dismissed by luxury hotel31-07-2015

On 7 March 2015 management at the Bagan Hotel River View summoned the executive of its workers’ union to a closed, filmed meeting in a private hotel room guarded by hotel security and instructed them to disband the union and to sign resignation letters. Five union leaders who refused were immediately terminated.
The union contested the dismissals and reinstatement was ordered by local arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
councils on 3 April and again on 6 May. When workers and union members demonstrated peacefully in front of the hotel on 8 May in support of the dismissed union leaders, management threatened immediate dismissal of any worker and their family members demonstrating support for the union.
The union continued to press for reinstatement. On 18 June hotel management offered formal reinstatement to the dismissed leaders but refused to allow them to return to work. The union leaders would receive only basic, minimal pay and be cut off from contact with workers and members at the workplace. Management also planned to appeal the reinstatement order, and thanks to the legal system is allowed up to two years to lodge the appeal.

In late July 2015 the International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF) reported that in response to its international campaign to defend basic trade union rights at the Bagan Hotel River View in Myanmar, management had taken to screening job applicants to identify potential union supporters. Applicants were asked if they knew anyone who was a union member and were warned that if they joined the union they would fail their probation. Additionally, management attempted to force out older workers active in the union by ordering workers over 60 to resign within 24 hours. When the union protested, these workers were allowed back - on condition they produce a doctor’s certificate. Workers at the hotel have never been informed of the official retirement policy of KMA Group, since management refuses to provide copies of their employment contracts.

Union busting at another luxury hotel30-06-2015

At the beginning of June 2015, the International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF) reported that management at the upmarket hotel Belmond Governor’s Residence was trying to eliminate its workers’ union through harassment, dismissal and intimidation.
The union was established at the hotel before the Oriental Express chain became Belmond in 2014. Shortly after the new company was incorporated, management began its anti-union campaign, demoting and docking the pay of experienced staff on the union committee and terminating another.

700 workers forced out of work after demanding fair living and working conditions19-05-2015

The Kakaungchin Yadana wood manufacturing company dismissed around 700 employees, and locked them out of their living quarters, after they sought to negotiate a living wage and better working conditions.

On 19 May 2014, the factory management wanted the workers to sign a job contract, threatening to fire them if they failed to comply.

Two days later, police and security guards evicted the 700 workers for refusing to sign the contract.

The 700 took temporary shelter at a refugee camp at ShankanYwaoo monastery, located seven miles from the factory. The chairman of the Myanmar Labour Union Federation, Aung Liu, said:

“Now, there are livelihood difficulties at the refugee camp. Even mosquito nets are not available when the workers sleep at night. Labour Ministry’s director-general Dr Than Win came to the refugee camp the other day and asked us whether we had villagers at the refugee camp because there were so many people. Which villagers would want to come and live here? Dr Than Win has been negotiating three times but the workers are still not allowed to enter the factory,” he said, adding:

“The situation is getting worse. It cannot continue like this anymore. If we cannot negotiate at the township level, we will go to arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
. If we go to arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
, it is going to take a while and the workers will not be able to withstand (the living conditions) that long.”

Government delays registration of trade union 01-04-2015

The Myanmar Maritime Trade Union Federation (MaPaTha), which reports having 2000 members, first sought registration on 3 January 2013. Despite sustained requests for registration, and repeated calls for its registration from the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
, the MaPaTha is still waiting to be registered in April 2015.

The Government Authorities have often indicated that they would, or were about to, register the MaPaTha. Recent enquiries revealed that the Assistant Director of the Labour Department had planned to issue registration on 18 March 2014, but was stopped. Apparently the Minister had ordered the Department review the application again, as he had received letters from competing organisations, such as the Myanmar Seafarers Federation (MSF) and the Myanmar Maritime Workers Federation (MMWF), which are already registered.

The MaPaTha has indicated that, although they are already registered, the MSF has 500 members and the MMWF has 200 members.

Protesting factory workers arrested04-03-2015

Police detained at least 13 factory workers during a protest to demand higher wages and better working conditions. The detentions came when about 100 workers tried to march from their factories into Yangon on 4 March 2015, but were blocked by police. After some workers staged a sit-in, police dragged them away. Although the Ministry of Information said that 13 workers, many of them women, had been arrested, protesters said the number was much higher. Two journalists were also briefly held.

Workers from several factories in the industrial zones just outside Yangon had been protesting since February to demand higher daily wages and overtime pay, but no settlements had been reached with the factory owners.

Authorities arrest striking workers 04-03-2015

On 9 February 2015, over 3,000 garment factory workers in Shwe Pyi Tha Industrial Zone held a demonstration, to express their support for the establishment of a trade union and to call for salary increases through collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.

The workers are employed at five garment factories in the area: Ford Glory Garment, Han Jen Textile and Garment, Costes International Co Ltd, E Land Myanmar Garment and Red Stone Garment. They conducted a procession around the factories, holding placards reading “Salary is vital” and “Foreign business owners must respect local laws”.

The workers were protesting the employers’ refusal to recognise a trade union or negotiate with the workers, calling for labour rights and an end to discrimination against workers. They demanded an increase in wages to meet the ASEAN standard and expressed their will to organise a union to help resolve labour disputes.

On 18 February 2015, the Yangon regional government responded to the demonstrations in Shwe Pyi Tha Industrial Zone, and further demonstrations in the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone (the two largest industrial zones in Yangon), warning that action would be taken against the workers. According to some media reports, the Government accused the workers of violently blockading the factories and impacting on foreign investment.

On 20 February 2015, the leaders of the Shwe Pyi Tha strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and 30 striking workers were arrested.

On 4 March 2015, security forces arrested at least 20 workers and dispersed others while they were marching to Yangon City Hall. The workers were from the E-Land Myanmar, COSTEC and Ford Glory garment factories.

Hla Hla Htay, a striking worker from the COSTEC garment factory, said that before the police crackdown, the police had asked workers to apply for permission to protest. The workers claimed they had already sought permission but received no reply.

“Police told us to turn back and said what we were doing was unlawful,” Hla Hla Htay said.

“Whenever there are talks, workers and employers cannot [efficiently] negotiate. We have to talk with [relevant] ministers. Now they have also arrested some of our leaders. We are just a few people but the police have a lot of protection.”

The striking workers say they will not return to work until their demand for a pay rise is met.

Workers have also demanded the introduction of a set, fair minimum wage; firm action against employers that break the law; compensation during the negotiation period; and the release of striking labourers who have been arrested in recent weeks.

Aye Sandar Win, a worker from COSTEC, told The Irrawaddy that negotiations with some government ministers have so far proved fruitless.

“They neglected our demands and told us to go back to work within three days,” she said. “Zaw Aye Maung [Rangoon Division labour affairs minister] told us that we were creating our own fate and that there was only the precipice ahead of us.”

Arrest of workers09-02-2015

In June 2014, twelve people were arrested for having participated in a demonstration in Mandalay. Several hundred employees of the Chinese-owned Lucky Treasure woodcutting factory in Sinkkaing Township, accompanied by hundreds of supporters, were intercepted by about 500 police officers as they tried to march to Mandalay. The detained activists each face three charges, including violation of Article 505(b) of Myanmar’s penal code. Workers were protesting against the company’s violation of a collective agreement in March 2014. The company tried to force workers to sign new contracts including three-month probationary periods regardless of the seniority of the worker.

Employer locks employees out of living quarters after strike07-01-2015

The Yess Candy factory in Yangon’s Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone refused to allow more than 150 workers back into their living quarters after the workers conducted a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 7 January 2015.

The workers were demanding a minimum wage of 30,000 kyat (USD30) per month, and a day off on Sundays. In the end, the workers settled for 7,500 kyat per month.

Despite this, the Yess Candy factory management refused the workers access to their company-provided living quarters that evening. The workers had to seek accommodation for the night at a nearby Buddhist monastery.

Twelve arrested for demonstrating about workers’ rights07-06-2014

On Saturday 7 June 2014, 12 people were arrested for participating in a demonstration in Mandalay. The demonstration was in support of the employees of Lucky-Treasure woodcutting factory in Sinkkaing Township.

The Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB) reported that several hundred workers and their supporters were marching to Mandaly when they were intercepted by about 500 police officers.

There had been four strikes since June 2012. At the second strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, Khine Min, a trade union leader, was arrested for two weeks.

Those arrested in June 2014 were each charged with three offences, including violation of Article 505(b) of Myanmar’s penal code. The article has often been used to punish activities under the premise of “intent to cause fear or alarm among civilians”.

However, tensions escalated in March 2014, when the factory owners broke an agreement with employees. They required the workers to sign new contracts and submit to a three-month probationary period, regardless of their length of service. The new agreement also gives management the right to arbitrarily terminate an employee’s employment.

Border Affairs Ministry also deployed 28 administrators to pressure the workers to quit their jobs.

Thet Htun Aung of the FTUB stated: “Authorities pressured the workers. They arrested our leaders then threatened us, they approached workers’ families and told them to accept compensation and leave their jobs or the military would dismantle their protest site.

No right to collective representation18-05-2014

The Myanmar Maritime Trade Unions (MMTU) has not been registered for more than one year by the Labour Department. Other unions in the same sector have been registered suggesting that the government favours certain unions over others. MMTU reports the lack of accessibility to information concerning collective agreements and working contracts for seafarers. Violations of the right to collective representation have led to abusive precarious relationships enforced by recruitment agencies on workers.

Anti-union discrimination16-08-2013

In practice, over 400 basic-level unions have been registered in the last year, reflecting a strong demand for a collective voice at work. Workers report, however, that some union organisers and leaders suffer retaliation for their legally-protected activity. Further, the dispute resolution procedures are not always effective in providing the necessary remedies. In particular, the newly established arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
councils do not yet have the tools necessary to enforce its decisions – especially as to reinstatement.

Taw Win embroidery factory does not comply with collective agreement01-08-2013

At the Taw Win embroidery factory, workers started to form a union and went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
over very low wages. The employer agreed to raise the wages but never implemented the agreement. The workers took the case from conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
to the arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
council, which ruled that the employer should comply with the agreement. The employer retaliated by finding minor reasons to discipline the workers involved in the complaint. The employer also refused to allow workers to collect dues, claiming that it was not legal. The employer also claimed that the union was not legitimate because of its association with the FTUM.

Workers prevented from establishing a union01-08-2013

Workers at the Inlay shoe factory in Bago reported employer hostility, including cases of managers physically abusing the workers. Workers were not paid appropriately for overtime, and they were punished with wage deductions when they were sick. The workers had initially tried to form a union with 30 workers but were told by the registrar that they would need 300, as the factory employed 3,000 workers. The registrar allegedly called the factory owner, who then begun to retaliate against the workers who had supported the registration process. Whenever anyone is rumoured to be a union activist, they are usually transferred to separate them from their co-workers. Workers were also instructed not to contact outside organisations. Subsequently, it is believed that the company registered their own management-dominated union with only 30 workers.

Anti-union discrimination by government ministries 01-08-2013

When workers attempted to organise unions in four government ministries, the leaders were forcibly transferred to distant locations when the government learned of the union activity. Furthermore, an anti-union memo was allegedly circulated describing the best methods to avoid a union. The labour ministry explained that workers have the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
, but other government ministries expressed that this was not their policy.

No trade unions allowed31-12-2010

There is a complete lack of legally registered workers’ organisations in Burma. Any workers’ organisation has to function underground, and its members face constant threats of repression and reprisal, including detention, torture and criminal prosecution. This applies, for example, to the Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB), which is affiliated to the ITUC.

FTUB still considered an illegal organisation30-11-2009

Despite the ITUC and the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
insisting that the Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB) be recognised as an official workers’ organisation, it is still considered an illegal organisation. The FTUB has been forced to operate clandestinely since its inception in 1991. It maintains structures both inside and outside the country including underground unions in key industrial sectors in Burma proper, and operates in all the major cities of the country. It actively collects evidence of violations of workers’ rights and monitors the denial of collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights in industrial sectors, as well as evidence of forced labour, which it communicates to the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
and to the international labour movement. FTUB members caught doing so are accused of treason and other offences and have been sentenced to life imprisonment, and in some cases have incurred the death penalty.

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