Federation of Trade Unions – Burma

Responsibilities & Rights

International Contact

Burma Office - Japan 101-0062 3F, Sohyo Kaikan 3-2-11, Kanda-Surugadai Chiyoda-Ku Tokyo Japan Te;: 81 3 5296 3010 Fax: 81 3 5296 7903

The ILO / the ILO mechanisms / the Consistent actions of the International Trade Union Solidarity movement and impact / results on eradication of Forced Labor and the promotion of Freedom of Association and democracy after 20 years.

The 101st International Labour Conference 2012 June 13

2012 June 13 .

101st International Labour Conference. U Maung Maung, Federation of Trade Unions Burma FTUB Page 1

Dear Chair and honourable guests, I spoke from this podium in 1992. On behalf of my organization, the Federation of Trade Unions Burma FTUB, I want to inform the 101st ILC about the recent developments in Myanmar, after twenty years of military dictatorship. One of the main reasons of such positive changes was the consistent work of the ILO jointly with the Trade Union and the Employers Groups. The new adopted laws that should enable workers to form Trade Unions and committed to the abolition of all forms of Forced Labour and the punishment of the perpetrators. We thank all the members of the International Trade Union Movement, who supported us morally, logistically politically since early ILO Conferences. This solidarity support, re-enforced by the mechanisms of the ILO is now showing significant results. Special thanks to the IUF and Dan Gallin for the very first initial support and Brother Guy Ryder who directed us to the IUF. Looking at the last twenty years, we can now identify various stages in the fight against the regime for democracy and workers rights. In 1992, when we started reporting to the ILO, the military regime insisted that all the reports on Forced Labour were fabricated. The Burmese authorities accused the ICFTU of political attacks to the country image, and accused the FTUB of using the ILO as a political stage against the junta. In those years the government indicated that “after the emergence of new Constitution, various laws would have to be reviewed so as to be brought into line with it. However during the transitional period the workers’ rights were being ensured by legislation still in force” this transitional period lasted around 20 years. In 2002 the junta agreed with the opening of an ILO Liaison Office on Forced Labour. At the present, despite the ILO work and the complaint mechanism, forced labour is still exacted, manly by the military, in many States and Divisions, as in Kachin or Arakan State, and is accompanied by land confiscation, rape, and other human rights violation.

2012 June 13 .

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Before the March 2012 Governing Body, the ILO and the government signed a MOU for the full eradication of forced labour by the 2015, through an agreed action plan. More recently the Commander in Chief declared the commitment of the military to punish the perpetrators. We consider that if there is the political will the complete eradication of FL can be achieved well before the end of 2015. The ILO and its constituents should also note that, during the recent mission of the Officers of the Governing Body, the Government of Myanmar formally recognised that the 1999 and 2000 ILO Resolutions that initiated the international sanctions were correct. Now we are honoured and encouraged that the work we did for the farmers and the workers of my country are appreciated in the proper perspective. We had to work hard to demonstrate the correctness of such measures and the need for their continuation up to now. The new labour law and rules are a great step forward. Too many are the restrictions and the strong authorities interference that limit the ability of local, regional and national trade unions to freely organize and to promote collective bargaining and the right to strike. Too many sectors are classified as essential services. We believe the facts can be amended to be in line with Convention 87. On 6th May 2012, during a meeting with the Officers of the Governing Body returning from Burma, we were informed that the Minister of Labour had communicated to the delegation, that FTUB and its leaders could go back to Burma, register under the Labour Organization Laws and Rules and work as a trade union. The Minister of Labour requested the ILO Governing Body delegation to arrange for a meeting with FTUB at the 101st ILC. On 28 May 2012 we had a meeting with U Thet Naing Oo, Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Labour and U Htin Lynn, Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also attended by the ILO and ITUC representatives After twenty years, dialogue was achieved. From 1996 till now, we had 32 underground members in jail, charged with many criminal charges. Myo Aung Thant received the harshest sentence. Still now four FTUB leaders are under detention, the rest of 28 were released in early 2012. All these cases were reported and discussed in the various ILC. This is the harsh history of the last 20 years and of the recent changes of political will towards workers’ rights, forced labour and the FTUB.

2012 June 13 .

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All these positive results have been obtained thanks to the consistent actions of the ILO, its constituents and International Trade Union Solidarity movement. The great question now, for both the government and the FTUB - is what next when FTUB goes back to Burma? For sure we will work within the present Labor Organization Laws and Rules. FTUB is strongly committed to build a broad, independent, democratic trade union that will work as responsible social partner. To reach this objective, we still need your support to set up trade union and vocational training schools, to enable us and the employers to promote an effective social dialogue; to become efficient partners in building a new Myanmar founded on social justice, the rule of law and full decent Employment for all men and women. Decent work laws and political commitment are needed to improve working conditions, and definitively eliminate forced labour and child labour in all sectors. In this very crucial transitional time, with increasing foreign direct investments and no specific laws, the ILO with the help of governments, should request companies to adopt the most authoritative international instruments on CSR and monitor their behaviour to avoid violation of human and workers’ rights and environmental disruption. The FTUB, and hopefully the Myanmar employers association, will contribute to that. We need to modernize the country, but we have to walk slowly, so that sustainable development with equal social partners becomes a reality. Donor countries should give priority to help the Women and Youth and help our country to develop equally and to become a model for sustainable development. We are happy that the World Bank, the IMF and the ADB are prepared to contribute but they should avoid using their failed models. We look forward to be working together in developing strong reliable social partners in a just country.

Maung Maung General Secretary

2012 June 13 .

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