Myanmar Has First Labor Organization Conference Since Freedom Of Association Law

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ILO News– One year after Myanmar passed its Labor Organization Law, delegates from some 500 labor organizations gathered in an unprecedented conference to hone their skills in labor organization, collective bargaining and occupational health and safety, among other areas of crucial importance to the country’s workers.

“This is a powerful expression of freedom of association which was introduced little more than one year ago, and the associated rights of assembly and speech,” ILO Deputy Director-General for Management and Reform Greg Vines told the participants at the opening of the two-day conference in Yangon, “Building a new Myanmar.”

Yangon, Myanmar at night.

Yangon, Myanmar at night.

Reflecting the changes taking place in the country, Myanmar Deputy Labor Minister U Myint Thein also addressed the conference, telling the delegates that the newly-formed organizations will be different from those that existed in the past in that they will be able to set their own agenda. He added that the government is working to eliminate all forms of forced labour; to create employment opportunities for youth; and to develop small-and-medium enterprises, as they are essential to the country’s economy.

While there has been rapid progress, some challenges remain. “There have been some weaknesses identified in both the Labour Organization Law and its enforcement,” the ILO deputy chief remarked, and encouraged government, employers and labour organizations to continue to work together to ensure that both the Law and its practice fully comply with ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, and provides workers the required legal protection against dismissal and other discrimination for being involved in labor organization activities.

“Building a new Myanmar” is co-sponsored by Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

The ILO has established the Freedom of Association project to help in the implementation of the Labor Organization Law. The project is funded by the US State Department and provides education and training to workers, businesses and government officials.

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