MCRB Welcomes Progress on Labour Law Reform, and Highlights the Value of Drawing on International Standards and Expertise
Vicky Bowman, Director of MCRB, was invited to speak at the 3rd Multistakeholder Forum on ‘How can companies contribute to Myanmar Labour Law reform through responsible business conduct?’ on 17 January in Naypyidaw.
This two day forum followed adoption of a 5 point Roadmap on labour law reform at the previous day’s National Tripartite Dialogue Forum to set the agenda for discussions between employers, trade unions and government in 2018 It was organized by the Myanmar Government with the support of International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the governments of Denmark, EU, Japan and US who are partners in the labour law reform initiative. Further information and documents are available here.
Vicky’s presentation highlighted the main international standards related to labour rights from the UN, ILO and OECD, including the recent OECD Due Diligence Guidance on the Footwear and Garment Sector which provides a practical guide to how companies can supply and source/buy responsibly. The guide should useful for Myanmar and foreign companies, and covers a number of aspects of labour conditions and environmental performance relevant to the wider light manufacturing sector.
Noting that the overriding definition of a responsible business was one which obeys local law, but that this was often challenging in Myanmar due to the quality and consistency of laws affecting business, Vicky also flagged up the expertise which foreign companies, including Chambers of Commerce and employment lawyers with experience of Myanmar and SE Asia, could contribute to the next steps of the Labour Law Reform Roadmap. These inputs could help to create laws which were clear and practical for business to implement and government to enforce.
It was in this spirit that MCRB and the Australian Chamber of Commerce Responsible Investment Working Group had recently a paper to Parliament on ways to enhance the draft Occupational Safety and Health Law which Parliament is currently considering.