Fresh mobilisation for wage increases in Myanmar

This year, the latter are forecast to be worth a record €2 billion, compared to €1.65 billion in 2016. However, according to the Myanmar Times, demonstrations have broken out in the textile manufacturing districts of Yangon, Bago and Thanlyin. Protesters are demanding an increase in the minimum wage from MMK3,600 per day (€2.43) – established as the first national minimum wage rate in September 2015 – to MMK5,600 per day (€3.50).The establishment of a minimum wage rate had outraged local entrepreneurs, who feared that salary rises would erode Myanmar’s competitiveness in comparison to its South-East Asia neighbours. Some of the many Chinese corporations who have built factories in Myanmar even threatened to cut their investment if the government did not cancel the measure.

However, the minimum wage rate does not yet seem to have been introduced in all factories. According to local media, some of them pay only the equivalent of €1.06 per day. Worker representatives for their part underlined that the wage increase they demand would still keep the minimum wage below those applied in other Asian countries.In 2015, Myanmar became one of the top-20 suppliers of textiles and apparel of the European Union. In the fiscal year 2016, the country exported €676 million worth of apparel to Europe, equivalent to an explosive 61% rise over the previous year, according to the French Fashion Institute (IFM).

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