Work­ers’ safety law stalls at the draft­ing board

Af­ter be­ing swung be­tween var­i­ous gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions for in­put, the Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Law ap­pears to be no closer to com­ple­tion than it was when the leg­isla­tive draft­ing first started four years ago.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­

DE­SPITE be­ing in the works since 2012, there is no end in sight for en­act­ment of the Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Law, which has not yet reached the floor of the hlut­taw for a vote.

Since it was drafted, the law has been dis­cussed among rep­re­sen­ta­tives from rel­e­vant min­istries, labour or­gan­i­sa­tions and busi­nesses, but no fi­nal ver­sion of the law has been agreed.

Ac­cord­ing to U Nyint Win, a deputy di­rec­tor from the Fac­to­ries and Gen­eral Labour Law In­spec­tion Depart­ment, the cur­rent draft is be­ing ex­am­ined by the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice.

“We are await­ing com­ment from the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice on the law. Once we have re­ceived it, the process will con­tinue,” he said.

An of­fi­cial from the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice, who de­clined to be named, said that such feed­back should not be ex­pected any time soon.

“It will take a long time to be sent back to the Min­istry of Labour,” the of­fi­cial said.

The new law will reg­u­late work­place safety is­sues such as fire preven­tion, pro­tec­tive equip­ment, safe work­ing prac­tices and dis­as­ter-pre­pared­ness.

Labour an­a­lyst U Aung Lin said Myan­mar’s oc­cu­pa­tional safety and health laws have re­ceived very few up­dates since 1951 and that such up­dates are nec­es­sary as the coun­try opens it­self fur­ther to for­eign in­vest­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment must pro­vide the means for work­ers to re­ceive pro­tec­tion in their work­places and should not de­lay the en­act­ment of this law, which has al­ready taken three years to de­velop,” he said.

The Min­istry of Labour said work­ers are ad­e­quately pro­tected while the new law is be­ing de­vel­oped by the 1951 Fac­tory Act and the 2012 So­cial Welfare Act.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to U Aung Lin, these laws do not pro­vide ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion for work­ers in mod­ern-day Myan­mar as they are ei­ther out­dated or re­quire work­ers to pay con­tri­bu­tions into a sort of in­surance fund if they wish to re­ceive work­place com­pen­sa­tion.

Un­der the 1951 Fac­tory Law, the fam­ily of a worker who is killed in the work­place will only re­ceive a max­i­mum of K400,000 (US$312) in com­pen­sa­tion. And the act does not cover all work­ers in all work­places.

Work­place accidents are not un­com­mon in Myan­mar, where scaf­fold­ing, hard hats and other safety equip­ment are of­ten miss­ing from con­struc­tion sites, and fac­tory work­ers have told The Myan­mar Times they are typ­i­cally re­quired to fur­nish their own pro­tec­tive gear.

U Naw Aung, vice chair of the Myan­mar In­dus­tries Craft and Ser­vices Trade Unions Fed­er­a­tion, echoed U Aung Lin’s calls for speedy en­act­ment of the new law as the cur­rent leg­isla­tive frame­work is out­dated and does not pro­vide ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion for work­ers.


Photo: Staff

Labour ad­vo­cates say Myan­mar’s work­ers need more pro­tec­tion.

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