17 FLA affiliates oppose unfair minimum wage exemption for Myanmar garment workers
On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, the Fair Labor Association sent a letter to the Ministry of Labor in Myanmar standing against efforts to exempt the fast-growing garment sector from paying their workers the country’s new minimum wage. The letter was signed by the FLA Vice President of Programs and 17 FLA affiliates.
The letter responds to efforts by trade associations in Myanmar to lobby the government for an exemption to the 3,600 kyat ($3.21) per day minimum wage proposed in June.
The FLA and its affiliated companies strongly support inclusive minimum wage negotiations in all production countries, in pursuit of fair compensation for workers. The letter to the Myanmar government specifically disputes the suggestion made by trade associations that a higher minimum wage for garment workers in Myanmar will discourage international investment, pointing out that brands committed to paying living wages in their supply chain would be encouraged to source from Myanmar, rather than deterred.
“Our concern is that any exemption negotiated for the garment industry would lead to hundreds of thousands of garment workers not having a wage that meets their basic needs,” states the letter.
“FLA affiliates commit to a standard of fair compensation that is incompatible with the proposal to exempt garment workers from the country-wide minimum wage,” said Jason Judd, FLA Vice President of Programs. “We all wish to see the ready-made garment and footwear sectors flourish in Myanmar, so we urge the government to create investment and growth based on decent employment conditions and fair compensation for workers.”
The FLA recognizes the 17 affiliates that signed the letter, weighing in on a critical wage policy question, and helping to advance the FLA’s Fair Compensation strategy. They are: adidas Group; Best Promotions, Chenfeng Group, ChicoBag, College Kids, Kathmandu, Kranos Corporation, Mountain Equipment Co-op, National Memory Project, New Balance, Outerknown, Patagonia, Public Identity, Santa’s Workshop, SEAsTra/SE Asia Trade, Top of the World, and Widget Wah.