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Labour Issues in the Telecom Sector: Myanmar Labour Laws and Reform Plans

  1. Labour Issues in the Telecom Sector: Myanmar Labour Laws and Reform Plans 1 7 October 2016 Natsu Nogami Senior Legal Officer ILO Liaison Office in Myanmar
  2. Global overview • Rapid technological innovation and market developments (i.e. privatization, liberalization, globalization) in the telecom sector require high levels of flexibility and adaptability for businesses; which has led to…. • The increase in non-standard or ”atypical” employment relationships through outsourcing, subcontracting or agency work/labour dispatch. • Some telecom companies had subcontracted all or a majority of their field technician services to third parties (i.e. TeliaSonera Sweden/Finland, O2 Telefonica Czech Republic, and Orange Polska Poland) • China Telecom recruits a large number of agency workers. (Source: ILO, “Employment relationship in telecommunications services and in the call centre industry. 2015) 2
  3. Some common labour issues in the telecom sector Decent work deficits •Non-standard workers often lack the same protections, rights and benefits as regular employees, such as health insurance, sick pay, maternity leave, workmen’s compensation, or trade union rights, etc. •Labour exploitation and abuse: e.g. child labour, slavery-like practices, safety and health hazards and risks, low wages, overtime, etc. •If the national labour law does not properly capture subcontracting, outsourcing or agency work: – Employer responsibilities are blurred, specially on occupational safety and health, wage payment, social security, etc. – these workers would fall into the informal economy, making them more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation 3
  4. Child labour in the telecom sector • An ILO survey in the telecom sector in Uganda: – Telecom companies sell airtime cards or phone cards to vendors, who would then employ children to sell them to the customers; – Some children work for extremely long hours (average 12 hrs a day) – Some children did not receive any pay – Profile of these children: extreme poverty, loss of parent(s), school drop-outs. 4
  5. Current Myanmar labour laws: fragmentation  There are around 20 laws related to employment and labour, but there is no central piece of labour law defining and providing minimum standards for the employment relationship.  The existing labour laws are obsolete and fragmented: – Sector-based (e.g. factory, shops and establishments, mines, etc) or – theme-based (e.g. payment of wages, leave and holidays, etc). 5
  6. Fragmentation of labour laws: what does it mean in practice?  Application gap: i.e. – Total exclusion of certain categories of workers from the legal protection (e.g. “home workers”); or – Partial coverage: e.g. • domestic workers are recognized and covered only under the Labour Organization Law but not by any other labour laws; • labour inspectors do not have jurisdiction in construction (including tower construction sites) or agriculture where there is high volume of workforce and prevalence of accidents and injuries. – What about the employers and workers in the telecom sector: tower construction, fibre line digging, fibre cable factories, shops and vendors, etc? 6
  7. Labour law coverage – check what laws apply to you or do not apply to you Legislation Covered employers/industries Covered workers Employment and Skills Development Law (employment contract and skills development) All businesses owned by the State, cooperative, private or joint venture employing more workers than stipulated, whether permanently or temporary. All workers employed for wages in the government, government organizations, cooperatives, private or joint venture organizations or companies or in other occupations. Apprentices are also included. Minimum Wages Act 1. Commercial 2. Production 3. Services 4. Agriculture Minimum wages determined by the National Committee for Minimum Wage shall not apply to small and family-run business employing less than 15 workers. 1. Permanent and temporary workers 2. Apprentices and trainees, 3. Clerks and staff 4. Outside workers 5. House-maids 6. Drivers, security men and guards 7. Sanitation workers. Shops and Establishments Act 1. Wholesale or retail sale shops 2. Commercial establishments (incl employment agencies) 3. Establishments for public entertainment Factories Act 1. Manufacturing 2. Processing 3. Transporting oil and water 4. Energy 5. Publishing/Printing 6. Ship-building services 7. Government-controlled factories 1. Manufacturing workers 2. Maintenance workers 3. Supervisor, accountant, clerk, security guard, driver, cleaning worker, cook, odd-job man, gardener and general worker 7
  8. Legislation Covered employers/industries Covered workers Leave and Holidays Act 1. Factories 2. Railways 3. Ports 4. Oilfields 5. Mines 6. Shops and establishments 7. Government-controlled factories. Labour Organization Law 1. Factories and workshops 2. Establishments and their production businesses 3. Construction and renovation 4. Transportation 5. Services 6. Government departments and organizations 7. Other vocational work 1. Daily wage earners 2. Temporary workers, 3. Agricultural workers 4. Domestic workers 5. Government employees 6. Apprentices 7. Migrant workers New OSH Bill? Is expected to cover all sectors? Settlement of Labour Disputes Law All businesses owned by the State, cooperative, private or joint venture involved in: 1.Trade 2.Construction 3.Industry and production 4.Agriculture 5.Services 6.Vocational works 1. Daily wage earners 2. Temporary workers, 3. Agricultural workers 4. Domestic workers 5. Government employees 6. Apprentices 7. Workers terminated or dismissed from work during a dispute 8
  9. Goals of labour law reform: a three-phased approach to labour law reform • Phase I: Amendment of individual laws based on MOLIP priorities (ongoing): – Employment and Skills Development Law – Labour Organization Law (LOL) – Settlement of Labour Disputes Law (SLDL) • Phase II: Establishment of a Labour Standards Act (in 2-3 years). – covers all workers and employers and leaves no unintended “gaps” • Phase III: Consolidation of LSA and other existing labour legislation into a Labour Code (in 4-5 years) • Of course, changes do not happen overnight. In the mean time, responsible employers are recommended to adopt international labour standards in their employment practices in their supply chains. (An ILO Guide to International Labour Standards is available online: publications/publications/WCMS_246944/lang--en/index.htm) 9
  10. Compliance, enforcement and rule of law • Labour inspection: – lack of adequate human and financial resources is a challenge. • Freedom of association and social dialogue: • Employers and workers could strive to solve the problems through management-labour dialogue and collective bargaining. • Dispute settlement: – Labour inspection is not the only way to enforce the law. The existing dispute settlement procedures can be utilized (workplace coordination committee; township conciliation council; regional/state arbitration bodies; national arbitration council; and the court); – Challenges remain, however: • dispute settlement procedures take too long and ineffective • Capacity of conciliators or arbitrators is still developing • Non-compliance of the decisions of the dispute settlement bodies: i.e. the rule of law ILO supports Myanmar in all these areas (and more) 10