Garment and footwear industry bodies in the US and Canada have thrown their weight behind plans to establish a minimum wage for workers in Myanmar the Global New Light of Myanmar reported on 26 August.
In a joint letter dated August 24, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), National Retail Federation (NRF), Footwear Distributions & Retailers of America (FDRA), Retail Council of Canada and US Fashion Industry Association expressed their support for a uniform minimum wage across all industries in letters to the Union Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security and the Chair of the National Committee on the Minimum Wage.
On 18 July, the National Minimum Wage Committee proposed a minimum wage of K3,600 (US $3.17) for an eight-hour day to the government. A decision is expected to be announced on 29 August. US, and Canadian garment industry players said that Myanmar will benefit from increased foreign investment as investors will welcome the certainty a minimum wage confers.
“Rather than deterring international buyers, we believe that the uniform minimum wage established by your government — a minimum wage covering all industries (with no exemptions) negotiated by all parties through a regular, orderly, and transparent process— will attract international companies to buy garments and footwear from Myanmar,” the letter said.
U Myint Soe, Chairman of the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) welcomed the letter of encouragement from the US and Canada’s garment sector but declined to comment as to how the minimum wage would impact the future of the industry.
However several local factory bosses have been vocal in their criticisms of the proposed sum and have said that they will have to lay off workers in order to keep their businesses afloat.