Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • French journalist tells of release from captivity in Syria

    Read more

  • South Korea ferry captain defends decision to delay evacuation

    Read more

  • Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • PSG clinch fourth League Cup title after beating Lyon

    Read more

  • Le Pen’s National Front fail to woo Britain’s Eurosceptics

    Read more

  • In pictures: French kite festival takes flight

    Read more

  • VIDEO: Anti-Semitic leaflets in Eastern Ukraine condemned

    Read more

  • In pictures: Good Friday celebrated across the globe

    Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Burmese granted right to strike, unionise

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-14

Workers in Burma have been granted the right to unionise and to go on strike, officials said Friday, after new legislation was signed into effect this week by President Thein Sein. The move has been welcomed by UN officials.

AFP - Workers in military-dominated Myanmar will be allowed to unionise and go on strike for the first time in decades, officials said Friday, under landmark new legislation welcomed by the United Nations.

The law was signed into effect by President Thein Sein on Tuesday, government sources said, and replaces the repressive 1962 Trade Unions Act, in the latest sign of tentative reform by the authoritarian regime.

"Workers will have the right to form unions and to strike under the law," a government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The legislation stipulates that workers, with the exception of military and police personnel, may set up a union with a minimum of 30 members and come up with their own name and logo.

Employers must be given up to 14 days notice of industrial action and unions must specify in advance how many people will take part in the strike, it said.

Providers of essential services, such as healthcare, firefighting, telecommunications, the supply of water and electricity, do not have the right to strike.

The text also states that employers in breach of the new rules risk a 100,000 kyat fine ($125) or one year in prison, while employees face a fine of 30,000 kyat ($38).

"Although we can't say that everything about the new labour law is good, we have to welcome it," Nyan Win, a lawyer and spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy party, told AFP.

The International Labour Organisation also cheered the new measure, although Steve Marshall, the UN agency's liaison officer in Myanmar, cautioned that he had not yet read the full text of the legislation.

"But in principle there is no question that the law is a major step for the government of Myanmar," he told AFP. "It is a very important factor in terms of the development both socially and economically of the country."

A well-respected Yangon businessman who did not wish to be named said he applauded the new law because he believed workers had a right to organise.

"Trade unions must exist in a democratic nation," he told AFP.

But the ILO's Marshall said that in a country where labour activists have frequently ended up behind bars, it would take a while before workers felt brave enough to take action under the newly-passed law.

"It is a new approach and a new culture," he said. "It will take some time. We will not see immediate change overnight."

The labour law is the latest evidence of a modest wind of change blowing through Myanmar in recent months, as the new nominally-civilian government tries to show it is serious about embracing change after decades of repression.

On Wednesday, the regime pardoned about 200 political prisoners in a much-anticipated amnesty though critics said the gesture did not go far enough as most of the country's roughly 2,000 political detainees are still locked up -- including many labour rights advocates.

"There remain quite a number of labour activists still in prison," Marshall said.

Myanmar expert Sean Turnell from Australia's Macquarie University said the authorities would have to reassure a sceptical public that they would let the unions operate in peace.

"The real test will come with implementation -- will people really be able to strike?" he asked, adding that it would take "a huge leap" of faith for workers to suddenly start protesting.

"People have to feel that they can trust those laws, so it is going to take some time I think before people are convinced."
 

Date created : 2011-10-14

  • BURMA

    Suu Kyi party says freed prisoners are too few

    Read more

  • BURMA

    Dozens of political prisoners freed as amnesty begins

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)