Myanmar’s Government, Employers and Workers work together to improve safety and health at work and receive international high-level support for their efforts

A nine-person tripartite delegation headed by the Director General of the Factories and General Labour Laws Inspection Department (FGLLID), and comprising the Joint Secretary General of the Union of Myanmar Federations of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI), and the President of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) met in Germany in June under the auspices of the Vision Zero Fund (VZF), a G-7 initiative that aims to contribute to the achievement of zero severe fatal work-related accidents, injuries and diseases in global supply chains (GSCs).

Press release | 26 June 2019
DRESDEN, BERLIN, GENEVA, YANGON - In Myanmar, the VZF is active in the garment and ginger supply chains. The delegation was hosted by the Institute for Work and Health (IAG) of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) in Dresden, Germany, and the purpose of the visit was to develop a business plan for the newly built National Occupational Safety and Health Training Centre (NOSH) in Yangon.

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The establishment of NOSH is an important milestone to create a safety culture in Myanmar that will ensure that occupational accidents, injuries and diseases in the country are reduced. The training center will be officially inaugurated in August 2019, and the first training programs will be rolled out soon thereafter. NOSH will target its initial trainings to current and future members of occupational safety and health (OSH) Committees, bipartite structures that employers should establish as mandated by the new OSH Law (passed by Parliament in March 2019).

Besides providing trainings on OSH and compliance with the new OSH law, NOSH will also conduct awareness raising campaigns and promotional events organized with tripartite input and support. ”The Government will take the lead in discussions on the OSH Law and will start the preparations for compliance with the Law through trainings and awareness raising events in the framework of NOSH… the idea is that NOSH becomes part of the operational structure of FGLLID”, the Director General of the FGLLID, U Nyunt Win told participants in Dresden. The DG acknowledged the work of the VZF in supporting awareness raising and accompanying the passage of the OSH Law, welcoming a second phase of the VZF project in Myanmar after May 2020.

In addition to the study visit to Dresden, the delegation also met with State Secretary Björn Böhning and Director Sabine Baun of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) in Berlin, highlighting the important progress already achieved in the area of occupational safety and health under the auspices of the Vision Zero Fund, and underscoring the need for continued support to further the impact and the scale of the results achieved thus far. 

Social partners reaffirmed their support to NOSH and defined potential activities and remaining support needed from projects like VZF to ensure NOSH‘s effectiveness in the short and medium-terms. Daw Khine Khine Nwe, Joint Secretary General of the UMFCCI acknowledged the importance of OSH trainings for employers and workers, but also for members of the future OSH Council, a tripartite policy-level structure that will oversee the implementation of the OSH Law. U Maung Maung, President of CTUM, highlighted the importance of NOSH in building not only a culture of prevention but also its contributions towards a modern workforce that underpins Myanmar’s economic development. UMFCCI and CTUM welcome VZF’s support to train their members to become NOSH trainers and enlarge the pool of trainers for maximum reach of NOSH activities.    

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Safe work in global supply chain continues to be a subject high on the international agenda. In her recent address to the Centenary International Labour Conference in June, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised the importance of protecting the health and safety of workers in supply chains and the responsibility that public and private sector actors share in this regard.

“The leading industrialized nations of this world benefit most from globalization and the international division of labour and this is why particularly these countries are not only responsible for seeing to it that there are fair and decent working conditions in our own countries, that is already a demanding task, but to see to it also that at every other step in the global supply and value chains these decent working conditions are respected.”

Furthermore, the Chancellor highlighted the important work of the Vision Zero Fund in Myanmar: “A good example and a case in point is the Vision Zero Fund that we adopted in 2015 under the German G7 Presidency. A global prevention Fund for better health protection and the prevention of work-related injuries. I am very grateful that we have the ILO as a partner in implementing the Vision Zero Fund and that first projects have been launched in Myanmar, Lao, Ethiopia and Madagascar. On the ground governments and the social partners decide, which sort of projects ought to be supported by funding (…) in the area of protection at the workplace.”

The ILO’s centenary International Labour Conference concluded in a declaration that requests its Governing Body to consider, as soon as possible, proposals for including safe and healthy working conditions in the ILO’s framework of fundamental principles and rights at work.

Upon their return from Dresden and the ILO’s International Labour Conference, the Myanmar tripartite delegation will discuss the business plan for NOSH with tripartite constituents in Myanmar for further endorsement and implementation with support from partners such as VZF.