Employers’ Organizations in Myanmar

Opening Speech by U Zaw Min Win, UMFCCI President, Launching event of Employer Organization Department and Employers Service Suite - Yangon, July 2019
Strong and representative business organizations play a vital role in an economy and society. They contribute to private sector development, growth in decent work, and improvements in industrial relations. They can help bring about a more peaceful and stable country and advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The changing political, economic and social environment in Myanmar has opened opportunities for business organizations to engage in new and important areas including labour and employment.

In order to help business and employer organizations in Myanmar’s changing context, the ILO’s Bureau for Employers’ Activities (ACT/EMP) has been working with a number of Myanmar business organizations since 2014. The primary partner is the country’s leading business organization, the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI). In 2016, the ILO program expanded its collaboration with two new partnerships, with the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) – one of the country’s most important sectoral organizations – and the Mandalay Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the largest regional business association in Myanmar.

With ILO/ACTEMP support, both UMFCCI and MGMA have established new departments in charge of dealing with labour and industrial relations matters. Building capacity to help our partners advocate well-consulted and evidence-based policy positions is a key goal for ILO ACT/EMP’s engagement with business organizations in Myanmar. Our main partner, UMFCCI, has taken a lead role for private sector advocacy on labour law reform. With ACT/EMP support, UMFCCI convened a series of technical working groups which developed the organization’s reform position. ILO ACT/EMP engagement played an integral role in assisting UMFCCI through the process of developing their labour law position and communicating that with dialogue partners and the general public.

Additionally with ILO/ACTEMP technical support UMFCCI and MGMA has developed a new sustainable suite of labour and industrial relations services including information, training, advisory, on-site assistance in case of labour disputes and labour audit services.

Snapshot of achievements (as of August 2019):

  • UMFCCI and MGMA have new departments working on labour issues with dedicated professionals staff. These are the first business organizations in Myanmar with dedicated, in-house capacity to help businesses with labour issues. Those organizations have also developed a departmental medium term strategic plan including new departmental charts, marketing plan, KPIs, financial objectives and medium term developments.
  • UMFCCI and MGMA regularly engage in policy dialogues about key issues including labour law reform, minimum wage, occupational safety and health and many other areas. They have developed evidence-based and well-consulted policy positions, which reflect the views and needs of the business community. In a number of cases, employers have been successful and their inputs have been fully taken on board in drafting new bills or law amendments.
  • New suite of services have been developed and launched by MGMA and UMFCCI, including information, labour advisory, semestral training calendar with at least 5 new courses per month
  • In May 2019, UMFCCI has organized a major Forum on Business and Human Rights and positioned itself as a leader organization in this area and demonstrated that UMFCCI leadership stands for human rights, peace and sustainability and is capable of guiding its members and advocating for those values.
  • The Mandalay Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry developed and formally launched the Mandalay Region Business Agenda 2019-2022, highlighting business development bottlenecks and reform priorities for the private sector in Mandalay Region in next three years.