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Myanmar: Factory Workers Win 20% Wage Hike

After extended negotiations, collective bargaining by a union in Myanmar has secured a 20 percent wage increase for factory workers in Yangon, the country’s industrial center.

According to IndustriALL Global Union, which represents 50 million workers in 140 countries, factory owners at Yes 1 Garment Factory agreed to a wage increase of 25,000 Myanmar kyats ($26), bringing the maximum monthly salary to $150 from $124. Yes 1 Garment Factory director, Kim Yaung Hon, signed the increase agreement with the Yes 1 Garment Basic Labor Organization last week.

Currently, Myanmar has no country-wide mandate on minimum wage, local municipalities are responsible for setting pay rates, but the amounts vary widely across regions and some municipalities don’t set a minimum at all, instead leaving wage-setting to factory owners.

The wage proposal for the raise at Yes 1, which employs 1,600 workers–1,200 of which are union members–was formulated in an IndustriALL Global Union workshop last December, and is said to take workers’ living costs into consideration.

IndustriALL reported that there are now roughly 400 garment factories in Myanmar employing 200,000 workers and those numbers are growing quickly. In 2013 alone, 200 new factories were set up. The still-cheap labor costs have put Myanmar in the spotlight as a viable sourcing country.