Labourers, employers fail to reach agreement

Workers at the production line of agarment factory in the industrial zone in western part of Yangon. Photo: Aye Min Soe
Workers at the production line of agarment factory in the industrial zone in western part of Yangon. Photo: Aye Min Soe

A TRIPARTITE discussion yesterday on finalising the Employment Contract (EC) between employers and employees of various manufacturing plants ended with an agreement to set a deadline for the signing of the agreement by the remaining factories, companies and workers across the country.
The trilateral meeting included representatives from the government, employers and employees and mostly focused on the issues connected with ‘probation period for workers’ and ‘termination of contract’ regulations prescribed in the EC contract draft, according to an official from the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, who also attended the meeting.
“We could not set the deadline for the signing of the EC by all the employers and employees. However, we have built trust and understanding of the employment contract among the employers and employees,” said U Myo Aung, the permanent secretary of the ministry.
The three stakeholders will meet again on 13 February, and employers and employees will discuss the contract’s sticking points.
“After reaching an agreement between the two sides, they can add their agreement as an additional agreement to the EC, and [the government] will not amend the contract,” the ministry official said.
More than 55 per cent of the factories and workshops nationwide have not yet signed the contract, said U Htin Aung, Deputy Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security.
So far, 97,696 male workers and 223,416 female workers have signed contracts with their bosses nationwide, according to the ministry.
The ministry issued an announcement last September, urging factories, workshops and companies with a workforce comprising at least five staff members to sign employment contracts with their workers within the first 30 days of their employment according to the Employment and Skills Development Law enacted in 2013.
“It is very easy to sign the contract, but it is questionable whether the government would take action against a factory owner when he or she breaks the contract,” said Ko Naw Aung, a worker who attended the meeting.
“The law guarantees punishment for those who break it. But, during the trial period, we have had to educate them,” said U Myo Aung.
On behalf of the factory bosses, a garment factory owner who also participated in the meeting yesterday expressed readiness to sign the employment contract with the workers but also demanded an end to protests at work sites.
Small and family-run businesses with a workforce of less than 15 workers are exempted from the minimum wage but need to sign employment contracts in accordance with a wage agreed between the parties.
The Employment Contract includes 23 points about job descriptions, places of employment, working hours, transportation charges, wages and benefits, among others.
The government set a national minimum wage of K3,600 for a standard eight-hour work day across all sectors and industries last year.

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