Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Speaker calls for swift setting of minimum wage

Speaker Thura  U Shwe Mann highlights national minimum wage in meeting with employees and employers at Hlinethaya Industrial Zone.
Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann highlights national minimum wage in meeting with employees and employers at Hlinethaya Industrial Zone.

Speaker of the Pyithu Hluttaw and Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Thura U Shwe Mann on Friday called for the establishment of a national minimum wage, expected to be announced in May, to be sped up.
The Speaker said the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security had been taking too long to set the minimum wage, urging it to complete the task as soon as possible.
The Pyithu Hluttaw enacted the minimum wage law in March, 2013 and the government approved the related by-laws in July, 2013.
In his concluding remarks at a meeting with officials of the ministry, employers and employees in Hlinethaya Industrial Zone in western Yangon, the Speaker suggested both employers and workers consider the daily wage level of K3,000 for government employees set by the Ministry of Finance and Revenue as a “standard” for setting the minimum wage level for workers.
Current minimum daily wage levels range from K900 to K1,300 in industrial zones, while an operator receives from K90,000 to K10,000 on average which includes 80 overtime hours, said Dr Khin Maung Aye of the Hline Tha Yar Garment Employers’ Organization.
“From K900 to K1,300 per day is the minimum wage guaranteed by an employer,” he said. “It means an employer has to pay that daily wage to workers whether they (workers) have jobs or not at the factories.”
On behalf of employers, Dr Khin Maung Aye said K5,600 per day with the rate of around K700 per hour suggested by the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) is “not impossible” for employers to agree to, with daily wages to be calculated depending on production costs.
Since 70 per cent of a garment factory’s production costs are comprised of wages for its workers, it is not easy for an employer to agree if he receives a demanded to increase current wages by 10 percent, he said.
However, another employer said he would be able to increase the minimum wage for workers because his factory has to spend just 10 per cent of its production costs on wages of the workers, and there are only 14 workers at the factory.
U Aye Lwin, Joint-Secretary of the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry pointed out that there is a misunderstanding on setting a minimum wage level, saying that the livelihoods of workers depend on commodity prices, while the skills and contributions of workers to a factory’s production are also considered.
He urged the government to adopt a policy and work to decrease the country’s transportation costs in order to decrease commodity prices in the country.
A survey was conducted in 108 townships by a national committee comprising governmental officials and representatives from employees and employers and included information on daily expenses of families, sizes of families, regional price indexes for basic commodities and income, and the occupations of able-bodied family members.
The official minimum wage for workers should not include bonuses, cost-of-living allowances and overtime fees, while working hours should be set at eight hours a day, a representative of the CTUM said.
According to the rules and by-laws of the Minimum Wage Law, the minimum wage level can be amended within two years after its announcement.
High-ranking officials and officials of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security will meet with employers Saturday and with workers Sunday in Yangon for wage talks.
In the afternoon, the Speaker held a talk with US Ambassador to Myanmar Mr. Derek Mitchell at the Hluttaw Branch on Inya Lake in Kamayut Township, here.
Also present at the call were Chairman of Pyithu Hluttaw International Relations Department U Hla Myint Oo and officials of the Pyithu Hluttaw Office.

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