Clothing giant Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) has voiced their support for a standard minimum wage across Burma, as negotiations on the proposed 3,600 kyat (US$3) per day figure continue.
In a statement released on 17 July, the international fashion brand advocated the implementation of a minimum wage, but recommended the government set a uniform figure across all industries to “attract and retain a skilled labour force.” The statement did not say whether it approved of the proposed $3 per day wage.
Negotiations surrounding a fixed minimum wage have been ongoing, culminating in workshop involving employees’ representatives, international labour organisations, government officials and the parliament-appointed National Committee for National Wage in late June.
On 3 July, the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Associate (MGMA) threatened to close factories if the proposed 3,600 kyat wage was approved by the government, claiming that such a figure was unaffordable.
However, many factory workers believe the sum to be too low, and took to the streets on 13 July to demand a baseline daily wage of 4,000 kyat (US$3.33).
Last week, two international labour watchdogs claimed to have gathered support from 17 garment manufacturers for the tabled minimum wage, including sportswear giant Adidas, clothing retailer Gap Inc. and Tesco.
According to official accounts, Burma’s legal minimum wage is currently set at 15,000 kyat (US$12.50) a month for salaried public employees and 500 kyat ($0.42) per day for day labourers. However this is widely ignored throughout the country, and little if any enforcement exists to guarantee employers will pay minimum wages.