Social dialogue

ILO Lab opens up to promote sound industrial relations in the Myanmar garment sector

A group of Myanmar practitioners of labour relations representing the government, workers’ and employers’ organizations, participated in the first session of the ILO’s Industrial Relations Lab (MIR Lab) which focusses on strengthening knowledge and awareness on systems and practices for sound industrial relations through social dialogue in the Myanmar’s garment sector.

News | 22 July 2018
YANGON (ILO News) - Since the beginning of its democratic transition, Myanmar’s participation in global supply chains has been growing incessantly. The country’s garment industry has recorded exports totalling US$3 billion in 2017 alone, with 25 percent growing rate.

However, Myanmar is still in the process of developing the conducive legal and institutional framework for the sound labour market governance expected from an active player in responsible global supply chains. As part of its “5-point Road Map for Labour Market Reform”, endorsed by the 9th National Tripartite Dialogue Forum (NTDF) held in January 2018, the Myanmar Government and its social partners pledged their commitment to strengthen sound industrial relations and dispute settlement mechanisms in a bid to attain decent work and sustainable development in the country.

Recognizing the need to build up knowledge and awareness of industrial relations practitioners on basic concepts of social dialogue, especially freedom of association and collective bargaining, the ILO Garment Industry Project (ILO-GIP) in collaboration with the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITCILO), teamed up to implement a programme geared toward the strengthening of Myanmar industrial relations system and practices.

Targeting tripartite actors of the labour market reform and industrial relations in the garment sector, the ILO’s Myanmar Industrial Relations Lab (MIR Lab) kicked off on 23 July 2018 in Yangon.

Thirty representatives of the government, workers’ and employers’ organizations, joined the first four-day long face-to-face session of the MIR Lab focussed on capacity building on systems and practices for sound industrial relations in the Myanmar garment industry.

The MIR Lab’s five industrial relations training modules will be delivered in Myanmar over the next 12 to 15 months. It is expected that the process and content of the MIR-Lab will translate into a more permanent industrial relations training mechanism.

The overall goal of the MIR Lab, and its following phases, is to promote Decent Work in Myanmar. The programme, embedded in the country’s first Decent Work Country Programme, to be launched shortly, supports the plans to strengthen the application of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work through improved labour market governance."

Catherine Vaillancourt-Laflamme, Chief Technical Advisor of the ILO-GIP project
The learning opportunities offered through the MIR Lab are designed to provide a wide spectrum of knowledge and skills for current and future professionals involved in or tasked with the management of social dialogue and industrial relations as part of their work.

“Joining the MIR Lab is a great opportunity to bring together the government, workers and employers, to build trust while learning together and focusing strategically, in a non-decision making context, on the sustainable and peaceful development of a garment industry which promotes decent work for all workers and employers”, stressed San San from the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM). “I hope that through this training we will be able to improve the relationship between workers and employers”.

San San (IWFM) and Kyin Aye (MGMA) during a group activity at the MIR Lab. © ILO
“Acquiring sound knowledge on industrial relations and social dialogue will improve the way we negotiate with our employees when confronted with labour disputes. Learning how to engage in collective bargaining and finding solutions not only benefits both workers and employers, but also the garment industry as whole”, said Kyin Aye from the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA).

As an incentive, the three most accomplished and committed participants (one per group) will be offered a grant to attend one industrial relations course offered by the ITCILO in Turin, Italy. The cost of these grant will be covered by the ILO-GIP and the ITCILO.

The road ahead - Myanmar Industrial Relations Training Mechanisms
  • Phase 1: The Myanmar Industrial Relations Lab (The MIR Lab) - capacity building program on systems and practices for sound industrial relations in the Myanmar garment industry
  • Phase 2: Myanmar Industrial Relation Institute (MIRI) – development of a formal training curriculum not only encompassing the garment sector, but the wider needs of industrial relations in Myanmar.
  • Phase 3: Virtual campus (V-MIRI) – content of Phase 1 and 2 translated into an on-line education programme.