Employers’ Organizations in Myanmar

Ms Saw Hnin Swe, Training and Research Specialist, Employer Organization Department, Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) - Yangon, July 2017
Strong and representative business organizations play a vital role in an economy and society. They contribute to private sector development, growth in decent work, and improvements in industrial relations. They can help bring about a more peaceful and stable country and advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The changing political, economic and social environment in Myanmar has opened opportunities for business organizations to engage in new and important areas including labour and employment.

In order to help business and employer organizations in Myanmar’s changing context, the ILO’s Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP) has been working with a number of Myanmar business organizations since 2014. The primary partner is the country’s leading business organization, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). In 2016, the ILO program expanded its collaboration with two new partnerships, with the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) – one of the country’s most important sectoral organizations – and the Mandalay Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest regional business association in Myanmar.

Developing new and sustainable training products is an important part of ILO ACT/EMP’s engagement with business organizations in Myanmar. Our partners now offer a range of new training products that they deliver as part of their regular operations. We also support UMFCCI to conduct training at regional affiliate chambers and industrial zones. In 2016, they conducted a nation-wide training trip in 2016 that reached 1,224 businesspeople through 26 trainings in 12 of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions. A similar training trip is taking place from May to July 2017.
Building capacity to help our partners advocate well-consulted and evidence-based policy positions is another key goal for ILO ACT/EMP’s engagement with business organizations in Myanmar. Our main partner, UMFCCI, has taken a lead role for private sector advocacy on labour law reform. With ACT/EMP support, UMFCCI convened a series of technical working groups which developed the organization’s reform position. The position was approved by UMFCCI leadership and launched in May 2017. ILO ACT/EMP engagement played an integral role in assisting UMFCCI through the process of developing their labour law position and communicating that with dialogue partners and the general public.

Snapshot of achievements (as of December 2017):

  • Two partner business organizations have new departments working on labour issues, with technical staff. These are the first business organizations in Myanmar with dedicated, in-house capacity to help businesses with labour issues.
  • Partner organizations are actively engaging in policy dialogues about key issues including labour law reform, minimum wage, occupational safety and health and many other areas. They have developed evidence-based and well-consulted policy positions which reflect the views and needs of the business community.
  • New services have been developed and launched, including labour advisory and six different training courses.