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AAFA, 3 groups send letter to Myanmar over workers' rights

Jun '19
AAFA, 3 groups send letter to Myanmar over workers
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and three other trade groups—the Fair Labour Association, the Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability and the Social Accountability International—recently sent a letter to the Myanmar Government expressing concerns over serious workers rights issues. It was addressed to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The letter expressed the associations’ increasing concern over serious and repeated violations of fundamental rights to freely associate, to organise and to bargain collectively in both law and in practice in Myanmar, according to an AAFA press release.

The associations are deeply troubled by recent amendments and actions that can misalign, confuse, and even derail some of the progress made by the country in implementing a consistent and democratic legal framework, the letter said.

The association members are concerned that worker’s rights to freely associate as union members are not being fully respected. Our members have also noted unduly burdensome approval processes for trade union registrations and industrial actions, especially the requirement of documents, procedures and approvals that are nowhere mentioned in law.

Even amendments to regulations, both adopted and proposed by the Assembly of the Union recently, not only fail to address the concerns raised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and other key stakeholders, but they would make the laws worse in many respects, the letter said.

Requiring trade unions to re-register every two years, placing a limit of 30 days on strikes, after which workers would be required to return to work, imposing imprisonment and significant fines on striking workers, failing to establish a meaningful legal framework for collective bargaining and allowing employers to bargain collective agreements with non-union bargaining councils against the clear advice of the ILO are some such steps.

The associations urged the Myanmarese Government to work with the ILO and other stakeholders to ensure that the labour law reforms, and implementation of those reforms, meet both international law and best practices. (DS)

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