International Workers’ Day

On May Day, leave no one behind

In a statement to mark ‘International Workers’ Day’, ILO Liaison Officer in Myanmar Rory Mungoven called for a collective effort to promoting decent work for all.

Statement | 01 May 2018
On International Workers’ Day we celebrate the contribution that working women and men make to all our lives and to the sustainable development of Myanmar.

It is a chance to reflect on the challenges faced by workers – women, men and young people – every day, particularly with the fast changes that are underway in the economy and workplace, here in Myanmar as around the world.

And it is a moment to recommit to our collective efforts – as Government, workers, employers and as the ILO – to promoting decent work for all.

What do we mean by decent work?

Decent work means productive work for women and men equally.

It provides safety and security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families.

It avoids exploitation, abuse and hazardous forms of work, particularly for children and young people.

It avoids discrimination of any form, whether gender, sexual orientation, race or disability.

It means the freedom for workers and employers to organize and the opportunity to engage in dialogue together and with Government on the issues that concern them.

Creating opportunities for decent work and putting in place the laws and practices to support it are a critical part of national development.

To this end, the ILO together with the Government and other social partners has agreed to a new four year Decent Work Country Program which we hope to sign and launch shortly.

The Decent Work Country Program will focus in three important areas: job creation and skills development, especially for the most vulnerable; freedom of association, social dialogue and sound industrial relations; and extending social protection and occupational safety and health to workers and their families. This is very much in line with the new Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan that is being drafted by the Government as a new economic vision for Myanmar. It is very important that the voices of the workers and employers should be heard in that process, and that they should have a seat at the highest levels where the economic and social future of Myanmar will be decided.

Leave no one behind

The 1st May is a day of solidarity. Solidarity is at the very heart of the Sustainable Development Agenda which we say should ‘leave no one behind’.

That means not leaving women behind in terms of equal pay and employment opportunities. It means not leaving the more than 1 million working children in Myanmar behind.

It means not leaving behind the millions of Myanmar workers who have left the country to seek work, sometimes by very dangerous means.

It means not leaving behind the domestic workers who receive so little recognition and protection in the home.

It means not leaving behind those people with disabilities who also have a right to decent work that will fulfill their potential.

It means not leaving behind gay, lesbian or transgender colleagues who suffer stigma and exclusion.

It means not leaving behind those who have become refugees or internally displaced from Rakhine State, from Kachin State and from other parts of the country.

“Leave no one behind” was the true vision of May Day and the founding figures of the workers movement more than a century ago. This is the message we can all contribute, not only to economic and social progress, but to peace and democracy in Myanmar.

On International Workers’ Day, let us recommit ourselves to working together to achieve these goals of decent work and sustainable development for all.