(8 July 2020)

 

Mr Chairman, Excellencies,

Let me begin by expressing our thanks to the ILO for convening this Global Summit at this most challenging time for workers all over the world .

 

Last year, we all rejoiced in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the ILO and the successful adoption of the Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. Unfortunately now, barely 9 months after the adoption of the Declaration, the world is facing the unexpected outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This new virus attacks everyone indiscriminately, whether rich or poor, but its impact falls harder on the poor and vulnerable. Workers, in particular women, are affected most severely. Its impact on the economy, labour market and livelihoods will be more prolonged and hard-hitting than initially expected, as the pandemic is showing no sign of abating. We must therefore strike a balance between our twin objectives, protecting the health of workers and taking measures to ensure that their business can keep running.

 

Mr Chairman, Excellencies,

For Myanmar, our people are the main source of our strength. To overcome our resource constraint, we have taken a Whole-of-Nation approach, mobilizing the people. The unique character that has emerged clearly from our pandemic response is strong voluntarism, charity and a sharing spirit. To ensure that of no one is left behind, our response covers all vulnerable segments, including IDPs and affected workers.

 

As a result, we have to date managed to keep the virus under control. As of today, we have only about 300 infected cases with 6 cases of death. We are treading the middle path between our paralleled efforts to protect public health, while mitigating economic impacts.

 

At this time of crisis, migrant workers are faced with difficulties in foreign lands without access to social protection. They are looking to their motherland for aid. Myanmar has made every effort to bring back all its citizens and to provide food and assistance to all returnees at the quarantine centres until they can go back to their homes in safety. The government is keeping a record of the skills of the returnees and creating job opportunities for them by initiating labour-intensive projects in the construction and agriculture sectors, as well as “Cash for Work” schemes linked to rural development. I believe that the issue of the migrant workers is one that deserves ILO’s greater attention.

 

Mr Chairman, Excellencies,

Myanmar is working together with ILO to promote labour standards and we are determined to follow up the recommendations of the ILO Centenary Declaration, in particular, protection of labour rights. Recently, we enacted a new Child Law in line with the Convention on the Right of the Child, and ratified the ILO Minimum Age Convention No 138 to address the issue of child labour.

 

In addressing the challenges of the pandemic, we are following the policy response; based on the four key pillars suggested by the ILO.

 

First, to stimulate the economy and employment, Myanmar has developed its COVID-19 Economic Relief Plan (CERP), which comprises a series of actions designed to cushion the financial, social and economic impacts of the pandemic and to provide loans to vulnerable sectors and small- and medium-sized businesses.

 

To realize the Second Pillar of supporting enterprises, we established a Committee to remedy the economic impact of COVID-19, along with a COVID-19 Fund to support the three most affected enterprises, namely, garment industries, hotels and tourism and MSMEs. The Government also provided social security benefits for insured workers who have lost jobs. Essential food items and cash transfers are also provided to families without regular income. Given the serious impacts on vulnerable groups, we have to avoid any step that could disrupt supply chains and exports in this most affected industry.

 

Under the third pillar of “protecting workers in the workplace”, the government has issued instructions on new working arrangements at workplaces. Only those factories that have COVID-19 preventive measures in place are allowed to resume operations.

 

Myanmar encourages effective tripartite social dialogue for solutions as outlined by the Fourth Pillar. The tripartite representatives conducted Education programmes on COVID-19 in all industrial zones. I, have myself also taken part in a series of video conferences with people involved in combating the pandemic, and these have included representatives of workers and employers.

 

Excellencies,
Myanmar has been working in partnership with ILO to conduct research on the pandemic’s impact on our labour market and to organize training for our workers. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the ILO for supporting our COVID-19 response.

 

The global pandemic has already taken toll of half a million lives, disrupted livelihoods and devastated the world of work. This is a time for maximum cooperation. This unprecedented global challenge requires global cooperation that delivers concrete actions in response to the common challenges we face on the Future of Work.

Thank you.

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