The Myanmar Times - Weekend

Workers criticise Labour Ministry’s virus rules

- TINT ZAW TUN Translated

Worker unions lambast the Labour Ministry’s regulation­s on COVID-19 for putting too much responsibi­lity on workers to prevent the disease.

WORKERS have criticised the instructio­ns of the Ministry of Labour on preventing COVID-19 in factories and workshops, saying they put too little responsibi­lity on employers.

Daw Phyo Sandar Soe, general secretary of the Confederat­ion of Trade Unions of Myanmar, described the regulation­s as one-sided and putting all the burden of disease prevention on workers. “The instructio­ns are unfair. They only highlight the workers’ duties,” she said. “Workplace health and safety are the employer’s duty.”

The instructio­ns issued on September 15 said employers should ensure that all workers wear face masks and shields in the workplace. Workers shouldn’t touch their eyes, nose or mouth without washing their hands and they must not eat meals in groups.

U Thet Hnin Aung, secretary general of the Myanmar Infrastruc­ture, Craft and Services union, urged the ministry to require employers to provide face masks, face shields, and hand gel.

The ministry announced in April that if workers need to be quarantine­d, it would be counted as medical leave and they would receive full salary, with the employer paying 40 percent, he said.

The government is considerin­g closing factories if they are unable to stop the spread of COVID-19 among workers, Daw Phyo Sandar Soe said earlier. She added that 61 workers had been confirmed infected with the virus, while more than 400 close contacts had been quarantine­d.

She said that during an online meeting on September 11 with labour union leaders, Labour Minister U Thein Swe expressed concern about the rising number of infections among workers.

From January to July, Yangon reported 56 permanent and 117 temporary factory shutdowns, putting over 41,000 people out of work. –

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 ?? Photo: EPA-EFE ?? Myanmar workers wear face masks on a car assembly line in motor plant in Yangon in May.
Photo: EPA-EFE Myanmar workers wear face masks on a car assembly line in motor plant in Yangon in May.

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