Burma’s Lower House voted on Wednesday to reject a proposal to form a government committee to investigate labour strikes in Rangoon over recent months.
Minister of Labor Aung Kyi told lawmakers an investigation committee would cast doubt on Burma’s moves to reform labour laws, granting workers the same rights as those enjoyed by workers in other countries in the region.
The right to strike and form unions “will sow seeds of confidence between employers and employees, contributing to freedom of association and freedom of expression," he said.
“Political intervention will not help settle labor disputes,” he said. “Foreign investors are well informed of the new labor law of Myanmar, assisted by legal consultants. New legislation calls for time to take effect thoroughly.” He called for the withdrawal of the proposal.
According to Aung Kyi, one employee federation, one employer federation, 127 basic employee organizations, and 11 employer organizations have been formed under the new labour law.
He said 53,343 employees have engaged in strikes involving 90 factories, and agreements have been signed after democratic bargaining betwen the two sides.
He said that negotiated settlements and arbitration rulings were made either within the factories or the township under the Dispute Settlement Law, adding that the “involvement of workers in labor disputes is nothing questionable because it is a matter of concern for them.”
As of June 16, more than 40 factories in Yangon's Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone had avoided strikes after workers’ demands were met by the employers, he said.