Home » Labour market reform » Half a year into Myanmar’s minimum wage – looking back, forging ahead

Half a year into Myanmar’s minimum wage – looking back, forging ahead

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The minimum wage, defined to be 3,600 Kyat for an 8-hour working day, has been in effect for six months.  At the occasion of this half-anniversary, the Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) Myanmar and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada organised a round-table event, bringing together key stakeholders to reflect on the establishment of Myanmar’s minimum wage, and discuss next steps.

Minimum wage round-table discussion panelists: U Win Zaw, Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM), U Aye Lwin, Joint Secretary General, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), Thomas Bernhardt, CESD, Mi Win Thida, CESD, U Myo Aung, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLES), Ms Piyamal Pichaiwongse, Acting Liaison Officer, International Labour Organisation

Minimum wage round-table discussion panelists: U Win Zaw, Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM), U Aye Lwin, Joint Secretary General, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), Thomas Bernhardt, CESD, Mi Win Thida, CESD, U Myo Aung, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLES), Ms Piyamal Pichaiwongse, Acting Liaison Officer, International Labour Organisation

The minimum wage round-table discussion, attended by representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLES), Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) and International Labour Organisation (ILO), was held in Yangon on 26 February 2016.

The round-table discussion, organised by CESD and IDRC, examined the results of a recent IDRC- funded enterprise survey, undertaken by CESD, and enabled exchanges on the likely impacts, enforcement and future adjustment mechanisms of the new minimum wage.

The round-table discussion contributed to a greater understanding of the challenges and benefits from the introduction of the minimum wage, and how various stakeholders – including companies, workers and the government – plan to adapt to the new situation. Different perspectives were also offered on potential next steps, including ways to ensure compliance with, or enforce, the minimum wage law, and possible initiatives and complementary policies to support the law.

There was widespread agreement among all panelists that for a successful implementation of Myanmar’s minimum wage policy, it will be essential to continue a culture of dialogue and constructive exchange among all stakeholders involved, building on the positive experience from discussions and negotiations within the National Minimum Wage Committee. The speakers also unanimously agreed that it will be important to have a proper review process in place to identify challenges and bottlenecks, thereby helping to define adjustments that will contribute to higher levels of compliance.

Mi Win Thida, CESD Research Associate and co-host of the workshop, said it was important to bring key representatives from the government, employers and employees to discuss and review the negotiation process and establishment of a minimum wage. “The workshop further informs the collective understanding on the challenges and benefits that different stakeholders have experienced since the introduction of a minimum wage, and how they have coped with the new situation.”

Thomas Bernhardt, CESD Researcher and Policy Analyst, said that ensuring compliance with the minimum wage is important not only to help workers achieve certain living standards but also to avoid a situation where non-compliant companies derive a competitive advantage from paying wages below the minimum wage rate. “Research undertaken by IDRC and CESD on labour market reform, including work on the minimum wage, raises questions for the incoming government to consider, and will support a smooth implementation in the short and longer run.”

Edgard Rodriguez, Senior Program Specialist, Social and Economic Policy, IDRC, said “The research undertaken, and the workshop today with key stakeholders and officials, will build our understanding of the current practices and challenges faced, and assist the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security (MoLES) with its ongoing work in future reviews and adjustments of the minimum wage rate.”

The research on the labour market reform and round-table discussion was made possible by the generous support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

 

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Further information on CESD’s and IDRC’s contribution to Myanmar’s minimum wage activities is available on the CESD website:

For any further information or queries, please contact:
Thomas Bernhardt
Researcher and Policy Analyst, CESD
t.bernhardt.cesd@gmail.com
T: +95-1-654 770
M: +95-9 9745 04633

Mi Win Thida
Reserach Associate, CESD
miwinthida.cesd@gmail.com
M: +95 9 255803261