The CESD attended the Labour Migration Stakeholders meeting at Thingaha Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw. The event was organised by The Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MOLIP) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and was supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Developing International Internal Migration Governance (DILM) and Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT).
The event signalled the continuing cooperation between Myanmar and the ILO, with an increasing focus on protections surrounding the rights of migrant labour and the reduction of both the social and economic expenses of labour migration. The Myanmar Government has prioritised job-creation in order to improve socio-economic status, with an emphasis on employment as a means to lift people from poverty. Union Minister for Labour, Immigration and Population, U Thein Swe, noted that the meeting aimed to evaluate 2018 ILO Labour Migration projects, as well as the taking into account stakeholders and obtaining approval for 2019 work programs.
Labour migration is a focal area for The CESD, having actively contributed towards the National Action Plan for Migrationand participated in The International Day of Migration in 2017and 2018, where The CESD’s research has been presented. One of these reports, Causes and Consequences of International Migration: The Case of Mon State, Myanmar, examined the various factors surroundinglabour migration in Myanmar.
In collaboration with Michigan State University, CESD conducted a Mon rural household survey across 1,680 households from 10 townships in order to understand to migration dynamics in Myanmar. It was found that the significance of labour mobility is intrinsically linked to its contribution to the development of the country of origin through remittances, which can constitute a large share of Gross Domestic Product. Furthermore, the report assessed how the government manages migration through labour policy and International Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) with other countries in the ASEAN region.These findings were combined with the results of a quantitative 2014 Population and Housing Census, examining who migrates, and the drivers, process, and consequences of migration.
Mon state was found to have the highest out-migration rate in Myanmar, with 21% of the population moving out of the country and the majority moving to Thailand. A labour migrant is defined as a non-seasonal worker intending to stay more than 12 months away from their place of origin. Gender, age (M = 24 years), and level of education (M = 6 years) were the most significant factors that determined migration. The causes of migration are often classified by push (lack of job opportunities, poverty, natural disasters and conflict) and pull factors (higher wages, family members already abroad, better living standards). As noted in the Myanmar Labour Force Survey (2015), 77% of people migrated in search of employment or business opportunities, and 19.8% moved to take up jobs that had already been secured. As consistent with national data, respondents from Mon Sate reported economic factors such as job seeking and higher wages as migration reasons.
The majority of migrants moved to Thailand due to its geographical proximity, as well the cultural and religious similarities between Thai and Mon people. Migration costs were central in determining whether a migrant utilised a formal or informal channel to migrant. The average cost for documented migrants to Thailand was a little under 400,000 MMK ($300 USD), whereas undocumented migrants paid 250,000 MMK ($188 USD). Strength of social networks also facilitated the exchange of migration experiences and information between friends and relatives.
Migration often resulted in a number of social and economic impacts experienced by both migrants and members of their families. A migrant from Mon State remitted, on average, 791,505 MMK ($595 USD) per year, while the level of income in migrant households was 24% higher than non-migrant households.
The report can be found here.