Weighing the Pressure – MGMA and KOGAM Report

Weighing the Pressure – MGMA and KOGAM Report

In March 2016, Action Labor Rights (ALR) released a report entitled

“Under Pressure,” which was based on a survey of approximately 1,200
workers at Korean garment factories in
Myanmar. It argued that there was “significant non-compliance on the
part of many Korean factories, particularly with laws on working hours
and overtime.”

The Korean Garment Manufacturers Association (KOGAM) and the Myanmar
Garment Manufacturers Association (MGMA) acknowledge that there are
compliance issues in a number of garment factories. However, KOGAM and
MGMA believe that “Under Pressure” is not a comprehensive or accurate
portrayal of Korean garment manufacturers in Myanmar.

One of the major findings of “Under Pressure”, on noncompliance on
working hours and overtime, is based on a legal view that the maximum
total working hours per week for
factories is sixty. However, Myanmar’s legal framework allows for a
maximum of 64 hours. If the information collected for “Under Pressure”
is re-examined in light of this, the  compliance of Korean factories
improves dramatically. Based on worker surveys, up to 98% of workers
reported that in an average week, factories complied with the law
about overtime hours. While even a small percentage of non-compliance
is unacceptable, these figures indicate that non-compliance with
overtime regulations is relatively rare among Korean factories.

The research for “Under Pressure” was completed in early 2015, before
the implementation of the minimum wage, so it gives a somewhat
outdated picture of the Korean manufacturers. Since the implementation
of the minimum wage in September 2015, much has changed in the Myanmar
garment sector. In order to show these improvements, KOGAM and MGMA
conducted a rapid survey of Korean garment factories. At KOGAM
factories, the minimum wage has led to significant increases in
worker’s take home pay. In the Myanmar context, these wages are
competitive with many other sectors. Many factories have also improved
in other areas, such as signing employment contracts with workers.

KOGAM and MGMA acknowledge that “Under Pressure” raises a number of
other important issues, and recognizes the need for continued
improvement and dialogue with workers about these issues. Many issues,
particularly around factory health and safety, can and should be
discussed and resolved at the factory level. For all issues, though,
dialogue should come before confrontational public reports and
statements are made. KOGAM and MGMA believe that the best approach is
to dialogue about issues first. KOGAM and MGMA want constructive
engagement with workers and unions, based on factual information,
regular dialogue, and mutual respect for all parties.

Read the full report here: MGMA – Weighing the Pressure