News / Asia

    ILO Welcomes Burma's Proposed New Labor Laws

    Two young ethnic Karen boys guard a military post at New Manerplaw, Burma, Jan 31, 2004 (File Photo)
    Two young ethnic Karen boys guard a military post at New Manerplaw, Burma, Jan 31, 2004 (File Photo)
    Ron Corben

    The International Labor Organization (ILO) says it is encouraged by proposed legislation in Burma to allow greater freedom for labor unions, but remains concerned about the use of forced child labor in the military and private sector.

    The ILO representative in Burma, Steve Marshall, speaking to reporters Tuesday, said Burma’s military is preparing legislation that will allow for legal trade unions, with rights to strike. Marshall said this is a further step in signs of economic reform.

    The legislation is set to be presented before a new parliament elected last November and due to hold its first session in late January. Marshall said the legislation marks a major step in the country’s labor rights.

    "Obviously, the issue of freedom of association, which is effectively the right of workers and people to be represented which includes the issues of, for example, collective bargaining, it would include the issues of the right to strike ... they are critical and if passed into law make a big change in terms of the way in which the society is able to develop," said Marshall.

    The military government in Burma, also known as Myanmar, already has ratified the internationally recognized Freedom of Association Convention, which is the standard set by the ILO.

    Marshall says, though, that while the introduction of the legislation is a step towards an improved labor market in Burma, the overall reform program remains in its early days.

    Human rights groups say while unions and associations have been a feature of Burma’s economic and political life, they have been tightly regulated by the military.

    Trade unionists also have been jailed for activities "not sanctioned’ by the military." Thailand-based rights group, Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), says of the more than 2,100 political prisoners currently detained, 44 are labor activists.

    The ILO’s chief goal in Burma has been to assist in ending forced labor and it has an agreement with the military government that enables complaints to be lodged with the organization’s country offices. Last year the ILO received 370 complaints, marking a sharp increase over recent years.

    Marshall said the ILO remains concerned over ongoing issues of child labor and recruitment of child soldiers into Burma’s armed forces. He said there have been signs of progress in dealings with the armed forces.

    "In the area of child soldiers - yes - there is a general positive move," said Marshall. "In the last year, for example, 73 children - as a result of complaints made to the ILO - were released and discharged from the military."

    The military government recently announced a program of national military service for both men and women that may come into effect beginning in 2012.

    Burma’s army, faced with problems of recruitment and desertion, has looked to underage recruitment using labor brokers. Marshall said the proposed national service is expected to have a direct impact on child recruits.

    Marshall added that many children often are lured into forced labor due to poverty when families are unable to pay for the child’s education.

    But forced labor remains a major problem across Burma, with rights groups citing villages forced to construct roads and other work for the military, while jailed prisoners also are recruited for local industries.

    A further assessment of Burma’s labor practices is expected to take place in February, when an ILO mission, including labor specialists, will appraise the reforms and new labor legislation.




    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.