Globalization, Burma, Decent Work, &

Challenges for Trade Unions

Arum Kumar
ACTRAV
Programmer for Workers Activities international Training Center of
the ILO – Turn, Italy
Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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ACTRAV

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Arum Kumar
Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Globalization?

(Picture)
Participants views. . . . .

Picture Source: Kate Raworth, Oxfam presentation on Trade & Human Development,
Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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(Picture)
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Picture Source: Kate Raworth, Oxfam presentation on Trade & Human Development,

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Many challenges facing the world & workers today. . .
♦ Food crisis, fuel crisis, water, health care, unemployment, poverty, lack of rights at
work, etc

♦ Since 2008, global economic crisis – caused by greed & speculation, de-regulation of
economies & of labour markets

♦ Global warming & climate changes that now threaten the very existence of many
countries & millions of people – over 20m people displaced by climate disasters in 2008
alone!

How are these challenges being addressed?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Unequal World
∗ Richest 20% pocket 86% of the world’s GDP; poorest 20% more 1%

∗ 1.3 billion people live on less than one dollar a day;

∗ OECD countries have more than 80% of the world incomes, receive more than 3/4th of
the foreign investment and almost 3/4th of the world trade is between them.

∗ Low income countries, including Burma have less than 2%

∆ More competition between Unequals;
[unequal capabilities lead to unequal outcomes]

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Current answer to meet the problems
♣ Economic liberalization, Globalization & in general policy belief that – ‘markets know
the best’
♣ One size fits all kind of policies:
One markets, free trade, de – regulation, completion, free capital
flows, FDI rather
than foreign aid, no performance requirements on FDI, employment flexibility, cut govt
deficit, raise taxes &/ or raise interest rates, privatize, etc

♣ Deregulate labour markets – flexible labour, pre – carious employment

♣ Capital mobility – Yes! But no labour mobility

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Why is world interested in Burma?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Globalization & Burma
Over 400 companies from about 36 countries have invested in Burma – Power, Oil &
Gas, Manufacturing, Mining & Tourism are the main sectors of investment.

♦ Major investing countries: China, Singapore, UK, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, France,
US & India.

♦ Foreign investment since 2000: valued at $13.9 billion (Myanmar Investment
Commission – MIC).

♦ Since 2001, ADB provided US $887 million in projects ( in Ports, Roads & other
infrastructure).

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Globalization & Burma
♦ Globalization has so far – bad news for average Burmese
Privatization & foreign investment → difficulties for most
workers, for
the environment; lack of rights & forced labour
→ pressure for migration;

♦ Low & declining public investment in education, health care & skills development (
& the lack of basic infrastructure) means that average Burmese population will not
benefit for economic opportunities

♦ Can Globalization put pressure for democratic reforms?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Impact of Global Economic Crisis

♦ Increase in global unemployment – could go up to 241 million – the highest level
ever on record.

♦ Working poor (earning below US $2per person, per day) can go up to 1.4 billion
(45% of the world’s employed)

♦ Workers pension funds – globally pension funds lost over 5 trillion $ between 2007
& 2008) – in some countries where pensions were privatized (ex in Latin America),
they lost more

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Impact on Asia
∗ Outflow of capital from Asia ( >100 billion $$$ in 2008) – what was its impact on
Asian economies, stock markets & currencies?

∗ Impact of recession in western markets on Asian production, economic growth,
Remittances, foreign aid, govt revenues

∗ Impact of credit squeeze on domestic investments, industry & jobs

∗ Implications for industrial relations (wage cuts, wage freeze, rise in casual unprotected
work, higher work loads, forced unpaid leave, default on social security contributions,
violations of FoA)

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Impact of Burma
♦ Burmese economy impacted by slow down in Asia
(Over 70% of Burmese exports go to the Asian region & about 90% of total import
comes from this region – Burma – China trade accounts for 72% of the total. Thailand
comes next with 16%)

♦ Revenue from natural gas declining – as prices of crude oil have fallen under US
$50 a barrel in the world market, Supply of raw gems (rubies, sapphire) reduced

♦ Impact on Burmese workers inside Burma? Migrant workers? Impact on women?
Children’s education? Minimum wages? Money sent home?

♦ Response of the Burmese Govt?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

So, what should be done?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

udik ;f ! bmvky=f urvJ?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Union view

♦ End deregulation of employment market & ensure respect for fundamental rights of
workers (FOA & CB rights)
♦ Regulate financial markets so that these serve the objectives of real economy
♦ Ensure basic social security for all (since this minimizes ‘impact of economic crisis’
& assists in improving effectiveness of recovery packages)

♦ Policies to eliminate tax havens, tax evasion, transfer pricing & currency transaction
tax – to dampen speculation.
♦ What else? ? ?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

ILO Approach
♣ Tripartite dialogue with social partners – to develop policy responses at national
level & international level to address the economic & social crisis.

Pre-condition for effective social dialogue: ? ? ?

♣ Global Jobs Pact – promote economic recovery thru opportunities for decent work

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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&;twGuf vkyaf zmfuidk b

?
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l m jyefvnfO;D armhvma&;twGuf tm;ay;jr‡iw
fh if&ef?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

ILO’s Global Jobs Pact
Framework for national & international policies aimed at:
♦ A global economic recovery with job creation and the provision of social protection to
working people and their families at its core;
♦ Stronger regulatory framework for the financial sector;
♦ Efficient and well – regulated trade and market;

Policy options identified include:
♦ Employment incentive public investment;
♦ Special employment programmers
♦ Support for enterprises
♦ Broadening social protection and minimum wages

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

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f udik f oabmwlnrD p_ mcsKyf
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f idk &f mwdk@wiG f xda&mufI aumif;rGepf mG csrw
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f m;onfh pnf;rsO;f pnf;urf;rsm;
owfrw
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tvkyt
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tvkyt
f udik f ae&mcsxm;a&;qdik &f m txl;tpDtpOfrsm;? 
vkyif ef;qkid &f mrsm;tm; taxmuftyHah y;&ef? 
vlra_ &;qdik &f m umuG,af y;r_rsm;ay;jcif;ESifh tedrq
fh ;Hk vkycf vpmrsm; owfrw
S jf cif;rsm;udk wk;d csJ@ay;&ef?
Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

At least one lesson for Asia

♣ Over dependence on exports & western markets
Almost 60% of final demand for Asian goods comes from developed countries. Exports
account for about 47% of developing Asia’s output

♣ For economic & social stability at home – Asian countries need development &
expansion of domestic markets – this implies Decent Work & respect for fundamental
labour standards.

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

tm&StwGuf tedrq
fh ;Hk aom oifcef;pm w&yf 
Ekid if jH cm;odk@wifydk@a&mif;csrE_ iS fh taemufwidk ;f aps;uGut
f m; tvGeftu|H trSo
D [JjyKjcif;?

tm&SrS vdktyfaomukeyf pPn;f rsm; &mcdik Ef e_ ;f 60 cef@onf wk;d wufzGH@+zdK;aomEdik if rH sm;
rSwifoiG ;f jcif; 47 &mckid Ef e_ ;f onf tm&SrS zGH@+zdK;qJEidk if rH sm;. xGuu
f ek jf zpfonf? 
a'owGi;f pD;yGm;a&;ESifh vlra_ &;qdik &f m wnf+idraf &;twGuf tm&SEikd firH sm;onf zGH@+zdK;a&;ESifh
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tvkyo
f rm;wdk@.tajccHtcGifhta&;rsm;udk
av;pm;a&;twGut
f rSo
D [JjyKonf?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Negotiating Change. . .

♦ What is the floor that should underpin every economy?
♦ Core labour standards of the ILO 
Freedom of Association – the right to form unions, the rights to recognition 
Right to Collective Bargaining 
Social Protection (basic social security & OHS) 
Access to skills training 
Minimum ‘living wages’ 
No discrimination, No child labour

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

ajymif;vJvmaom n‡Ed i_d ;f r_
tm;vH;k aom pD;yGm;a&; tm;aumif;vmap&eftwGuf tajccHusaom
ILO .tajccHusaom pHEe_ ;f rsm; Core labour standards of the ILO 
vGwv
f yfpmG toif;tyif;rsm;zGJ@pnf;cGi/fh tvkyo
f rm;or*~rsm;zGJ@pnf;cGi/fh todtrSwjf yKydik cf iG hf 
pkaygi;f n‡Ed id_ ;f ta&;qdyk idk cf iG fh 
vlrq
_ idk &f m umuG,af &; (tajccHusaom vH+k cHKa&;ESifh vkyif ef;cGif use;f rma&;ESifh ab;tE W&m,f
uif;a&;) 
t&nftaoG;qdik &f m oifwef;rsm; wufa&mufEidk af &; 
&Sio
f efaexdik af &;twGuf tedrq
fh ;Hk vkyv
f pm 
ESrd cfh s cGjJ cm;qufqrH r_ &Sad &;/ uav;oli,f vkyt
f m;r&Sad &;

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Why Labour Standards?

Labour Standards are not just a question of workers rights BUT are also means to
promote sustainable economic growth –
Labour Standards create conditions for growth of domestic markets in so for as they
enable sharing in gains of growth & spread of purchasing powers – and thereby
ameliorate poverty conditions – this makes domestic economic growth more
sustainable.

Labour standards promote Occupational Safety, Health and Environment protection

Globle Economic Crisis & Climate crisis is an opportunity to re-think development
model – but will this happen?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

tvkyo
f rm;rsm;twGuf pHEe_ ;f qdw
k mbmvJ
tvkyo
f rm;pHEe_ ;f qdo
k nfrmS tvkyo
f rm;rsm;twGut
f cGifhta&;qdik f&momrubJcEH ikd f&nf&adS om
pD;yGm;a&;zGH@+zdK;r_qidk &f mtm; jr‡iw
fh ifay;&ef?
jynfwiG ;f aps;uGuf zGH@+zdK;vmjcif;rS 0,fvt
dk m;zGH@+zdK;jcif;ESiu
fh s,jf yef@vmjcif;wkd@twGuf tvkyo
f rm;
pHEe_ ;f rsm;rS zefw;D ay;onf?
tvkyo
f rm;pHEe_ ;f rsm;onf
vkyif ef;cGif
ywf0ef;usiu
f muG,af &;wdk@twGuf jr‡iw
fh ifay;onf?

ab;uif;vH+k cHKa&;ESifh

use;f rma&;/

urBmph ;D yGm;a&;tusyt
f wnf;ESifh &moDOwkjy\em wkd@onf zGH@+zdK;wd;k wufap&eftwGuf pxm;I
jyefvnfawG;ac:&eftwGuf tcGit
fh a&;yifjzpfonf? wu,fyifjzpfvmrnfvm;?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Group Discussion/Work
♦ What major changes in economic, political & labour policies has Burmese Govt made
in recent years?

♦ How has foreign investment & international campaign against Burmese junta affected
workers in your country?

♦ What has been the response of the workers and trade unions in Burma?

♦ What role can the International Trade Union Movement play in assisting national
unions to meet the challenges in Burma?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

tkypf v
k u
dk af qG;aEG;vkyu
f idk jf cif;
r=umjrifrh D tcsed fumvrsm;wGif jrefrmtpd;k &taejzifh pD;yGm;a&;/ Edik if Ha&;/ tvkyo
f rm;a&;qdik &f mwdk@ twGuf
rl0g'ta&;ygaom ajymif;vJrr_ sm; bmawGvyk yf govJ? 
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H umrS zdtm;ay;vkyaf qmifrr_ sm;onf jrefrmEkdifiH
wGi;f &Sd tvkyo
f rm;rsm;udk xdcu
dk rf &_ ySd govm;? 
jrefrmEdik if w
H iG ;f &Sd tvkyo
f rm;rsm;ESifh tvkorm;or*~taejzifh rnfodk@wek f@jyefrr_ sm;vkycf yJh govJ? 
jrefrmEkid if t
H vkyform;or*~rsm;taejzifh Tpdeaf c:r_rsm;udk &ifqidk Ef ikd &f eftwGuf
tvkyo
f rm;or*~ v_y&f mS ;r_taejzifh rnfuo
Jh dk@taxmuftuljyKEdik rf nfenf;?

Federation of Trade Unions-Burma

Edik if w
H umu