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Myanmarese labour rights group faults Korean factories

Myanmar labour rights group, Action Labor Rights recently launched ‘Under Pressure’, a report on labour conditions in a number of garment factories which are either wholly Korean owned or joint-ventures with Korean companies. The report says that workers are under pressure in Korean-owned garment factories. The survey, undertaken in mid-2015, compares conditions in factories to Myanmar legal requirements. It reveals significant non-compliance on the part of many factories, particularly concerning laws on working hours and overtime, Action Labor Rights said in a press release. In factories surveyed, excessive overtime was the major issue of concern. Almost 30 per cent of the factories surveyed failed to abide by the maximum 16 hours weekly overtime limit. Nearly two thirds of workers surveyed (62 per cent) reported being unable to refuse working excessive hours. This is unsurprising given that almost two-third of workers (63 per cent) said that their take home pay was not enough to live comfortably. A shocking 30 per cent of workers said they were provided payslips only in English or Korean, another direct breach of Myanmar law which requires payslip information to be provided in Burmese. Only 40 per cent of workers claimed that they have signed employment contracts; many of these did not have their own copy. Despite a legal requirement under the 2012 Settlement of Labour Disputes Law for an employer with more than 30 employees to establish a Workplace Coordinating Committee, only 14 per cent of Korean garment factories surveyed – all of which had more than 30 employees – have one. Other findings cover discrimination against trade union representatives, medical leave, maternity rights, harassment, child labour and working conditions including fire safety, the report said. Action Labor Rights Director, Thurein Aung, said, “Our findings show lack of compliance with Myanmar law in many of the factories we studied. This is not a problem only in Korean-owned factories. It occurs across the garment sector. “We recognise that are differences between Korean factories . We know that a few of them, who are seeking to supply international brands, are actively working to meet Myanmar legal requirements and international standards. But too many of them are not.”