National minimum wage proposal agreed at K3600

A union representative and a Kayin State labour ministry official, both members of the national minimum wage committee, disclosed the figure to The Myanmar Times on the final day of a closed-door meeting in Yangon that appeared to deal a blow in particular to the garment industry.

Minister for Labour and committee chair U Aye Myint declined to confirm the amount. He told The Myanmar Times that the minimum wage might be set between K3200 and K4000 and that the exact figure would be officially announced over the next days.

“It is sure that the minimum wage cannot be less than K3000, even if we can’t say how much it is fixed exactly at this moment,” he told a press conference after the meeting.

Two months of consultations will be held after the proposal is officially announced, and before the issue goes to parliament for a final decision.

The committee made its decision yesterday after a two-day workshop that brought together the labour ministry, employers and trade union representatives organised by the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce (UMFCCI).

The committee, formed a year ago, includes the labour ministry, the national planning and social welfare departments, officials from states and regions, and labour and employer representatives.

Most committee members were said to be in favour of a proposed minimum wage of K3600 as a basis for the whole country. A day earlier, labour representatives had argued for K4000.

But the meeting was unable to reach a decision until the evening as representatives of the garment industry were insisting on a lower amount.

“The garment representatives made strong arguments on wages. They had been demanding wages as low as K2500,” said U Naw Aung, a labour delegate on the committee.

He said workers’ representatives appreciated that the committee agreed on a proposed K3600, even if it was less than they had pushed for, because there was an urgent need to settle the issue. Unions would now have a minimum wage on which to base proposed adjustments, he added.

Daw Khine Khine Nwe, representing garment factories, said the factories would need more time to fix minimum wages and to recognise the proposed level.

Garment workers could actually earn from K8000 to K10,000 a day but this included overtime and benefits, she said. If basic wages were set at a low level, employers could promise to increase wages step by step, she said.

UMFCCI chair U Win Aung said factory owners who could not pay the proposed wages would have to think about changing their business practices. He declined to comment on whether the committee had reached agreement on K3600 a day.

Source: Myanmar Times

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