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Labour union to seek major increase in minimum wage

Workers march during a minimum wage protest in Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone, Rangoon Division, on 12 July 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

A major labour union in Burma plans on proposing an increase in the daily minimum wage that would nearly double the current figure, citing rising costs of living in the country.

Win Zaw, a central committee member of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), said at a briefing in Rangoon on Tuesday that the official proposal will occur at a tripartite meeting of employers, labourers and government officials in December.

After that, negotiations will ensue and objections can be registered with the National Minimum Wage Fixing Committee within a period of 60 days.

The previous military-backed administration of former President Thein Sein set the wage at 3,600 kyats ($2.60) for an eight-hour workday, with exemptions for small businesses employing fewer than 15 workers.

CTUM arrived at the new figure after conducting a survey of 130 businesses in six states and divisions from June to August this year.

Win Zaw said the wage committee could arrive at a new rate by April.

Khine Zar Aung, a member of the CTUM and the wage committee, said that stakeholders need to understand the importance of the minimum wage and decent working conditions so as to increase production and economic development.

Burma has one of the lowest minimum wages in the region, but is attempting to boost its manufacturing base.

Tin Shwe, the owner of Shwe Oh Liquor Factory in Rangoon’s Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone, said he is prepared to pay the increase if workers and employers agree on the figure.

“The new minimum labour wage should be set at a common rate for all businesses,” he said.

This story was originally published by Myanmar Now here