Making a case for dispute resolution

by Maeve Galvin on May 15, 2017

New research from Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has explored the impact of Myanmar's labour dispute resolution system, as the country continues to open its borders to international supply chains.

The system was established in 2012 to protect and enforce the rights and obligations of workers and employers across industries, and has been used to good effect in the garment sector.

The BSR report, supported by C&A Foundation and titled 'Labour Disputes in Myanmar: From Workplace to the Arbitration Council', was launched in Yangon on Monday, 8 May. The event brought together stakeholders from local government and industry to kick-start discussions about how to further strengthen the system.

Maeve Galvin, C&A Foundation's Working Conditions Programme Manager, says: “A decent dispute resolution system can be very powerful, not only in resolving challenges that are brought to it, but also because knowledge of previous cases and their outcomes can stop issues from arising in the first place.

“The report also recommends that local organisations and labour rights NGOs help workers to navigate the system and act as observers to hearings, while employers and international buyers can do more to encourage supplier factories to raise awareness and provide training for workers and managers.”

Working Conditions Programme Manager at C&A Foundation Maeve Galvin

"This partnership with BSR is an opportunity to invest in Myanmar's good work as the country continues to progress politically and economically."

The report represents the first phase of these efforts and has resulted in a number of targeted recommendations.

For example, the report puts forward that the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population has an essential role to play in terms of training and building capacity within the system, developing better enforcement mechanisms, and supporting transparency by making information about cases more widely available.

Maeve adds: “It also recommends that local organisations and labour rights NGOs help workers to navigate the system and act as observers to hearings, while employers and international buyers can do more to encourage supplier factories to raise awareness and provide training for workers and managers.

“This research has given us valuable insight into how the system is working, and people's views of it. We hope it's a launch pad for good conversations, and action, within the country."

Read the report here.