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Strengthening health and safety in Myanmar’s mines

16 March, 2020Health and safety is a constant worry among miners in Myanmar. Mining Workers Federation of Myanmar (MWFM), the IndustriALL Global Union affiliate representing 7,500 miners in the country, is calling on the government and employers to improve health and safety, like ensuring emergency exits, clean drinking water and fire extinguishers at the worksites.

Speaking at the planning and evaluation meeting of the Myanmar union building project earlier this month, MWFM president Thaung Nyunt said that there can be no compromise when it comes to health and safety; authorities and employers must put human lives before profit.

“Through IndustriALL's project activities we have been able to successfully lobby employers to implement safety guidelines and appoint safety supervisors. Joint investigation committees with workers and employers were also set up in accordance to the law.

“Mining companies should welcome our organizing drive, as union representatives will oversee implementation of safety and health measures in mines. Good practice will be realized through continuous social dialogue.”

“I look forward MWFM’s position paper on Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines; it’s crucial to have a gap analysis on the international labour standards and the occupational safety and health laws in your country to guide our actions,”

said Annie Adviento, regional secretary of IndustriALL South East Asia office.

20 union representatives from MWFM and Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) participated in the planning, supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The two-day project planning meeting aimed to identify the challenges of organizing workers in Myanmar and to formulate a strategic plan to increase union density.

Opening the meeting, the president of Confederation of Trade Union of Myanmar, Maung Maung stressed the importance of reaching out to the unorganized workers and recruit them.

Membership of IWFM has increased from 20,449 in 2018 to 24,980 in Feb 2020. MWFM membership increased to 7,495 in 2020, a 57 per cent hike since 2018.