Even with a minimum wage, factory workers were subjected to long and strenuous hours of labor.
Garment factory workers in Myanmar are subject to harsh working conditions, long hours and face workplace intimidation, all for a small minimum wage, according to an investigative report into the industry released Thursday.
While the garment industry in Myanmar was seen to be growing and creating a number of jobs for locals, particularly women, the country’s “labor standards main below internationally recognized human rights and labor standards.”
The report “Raising the Bottom Layer” by the rights group Progressive Voice was based on 199 interviews with workers, as well as private and union stakeholders, and found that 95 percent of workers regularly work six days per week, often 10 or more hours a day.
Workers also reported intimidation by management and were reluctant to refuse working overtime, taking holidays and sick leave, fearful of fines and arbitrary termination.
Of the 87 percent of women that make up the workforce, significant numbers believed that or were unsure that maternity leave was banned, despite being required by law. Many workers were not members of trade unions and many did not know that they existed in their workplace.
More than half of workers said they had experienced problems with managers and supervisors. Working conditions included inadequate bathroom and heath facilities for the amount of workers and a worker’s social security fund was reported to be the subject to corruption.
While 99 percent of workers interviewed said that they were paid the minimum wage of around $US 3 per hour that was introduced in 2015, 61 percent said they had experienced negative impacts since, such as harder working conditions, increased output requirements, and regulations.
Despite recent wage increases many garment workers “struggle to make ends meet just as they did in the years before the minimum wage was implemented due to the rises in inflation and commodity prices.”
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