Garment factories vote against proposed minimum wage

Employers and representatives of garment factories raise hands in protest against the proposed minimum wage as the issue is taken to vote.
Employers and representatives of garment factories raise hands in protest against the proposed minimum wage as the issue is taken to vote.

Myanmar garment factory owners on Thursday unanimously voted against a proposed minimum wage set at K3,600 for an eight-hour day, promising to send their objections to the National Minimum Wage Committee  within two weeks.
The vote was done by more than 200 businessmen from 145 garment factories attending a meeting at the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, at which they discussed the challenges they face in meeting the proposed minimum wage, which was announced by the government on 29 June.  There are about 300 garment factories in Myanmar.
Garment industry bosses had offered a wage of K2,500 during the 22-23 June negotiation between the employers and employees, but the two sides could not reach an agreement during the talks sponsored by the government.
The employers cannot agree to the proposed minimum wage because the garment cutting, measuring and packaging industry does not depend on working hours but rather on productivity, said Daw Khaing Khaing Nwe, secretary of the Myanmar Garment Manufactures Association.On behalf of the employers, she suggested the government bear some of their burden by making arrangements for the construction of housing quarters for workers and for ferry services for workers, and by giving tax breaks to garment businesses and assisting in the logistics of the garment industry.
During the meeting today, about 30 factories with foreign investment expressed their intent to shut down in September if the proposed minimum wage takes effect on 1 September.
The closure of the 30 factories would lead to more than 70,000 job losses, a Chinese businessman said.
Meanwhile, about 16 factories owned by Korean businessmen are facing a very difficult situation threatening their ability to continue running, said Mr Seo Won-Ho, CEO of Golden Shine Co Ltd from the Shwe Paukkan Industrial Zone.
He also urged the government to reconsider the proposed minimum rate and to hike the wage in at least three steps from the current salary rate to the proposed rate.
The garment industry has trained 80 percent of people who have not finished their education and given jobs to them, so factory closures could cause many social problems, said Mr Howard Kuan, business development manager of North Shore Group Co Ltd.
Ma Tin Moe Khaing, Secretary of the Hlinethaya Industrial Zone garment workers association, expressed her sympathy with the garment factory employers in the letter sent to Korean employers on 26 June inviting to negotiate for the proposed minimum wage and urged them to be in tune with the current reforms of the garment industry to considerate the workers as the government has already committed to sustainability of the factories.

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