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Korean firms flout labor laws in Myanmar

Korean owned factories in Myanmar have been cited for labor violations. Workers are under pressure in Korean-owned garment factories. Many factories have been found to be non-compliant, particularly concerning laws on working hours and overtime. Most of these Korean factories supply to international brands.

Almost 30 per cent of the factories surveyed failed to abide by the maximum 16 hours weekly overtime limit. Nearly two thirds of workers surveyed (62 per cent) reported being unable to refuse working excessive hours. Almost two-third of workers (63 per cent) said their take home pay is not enough to live comfortably. About 30 per cent of workers are provided pay slips only in English or Korean, another direct breach of Myanmar law which requires pay slip information to be provided in Burmese.

Only 40 per cent of workers have signed employment contracts; many did not have their own copy. Despite a legal requirement that an employer with more than 30 employees should establish a Workplace Coordinating Committee, only 14 per cent of Korean garment factories – all of which had more than 30 employees – have one. Other findings cover discrimination against trade union representatives, medical leave, maternity rights, harassment, child labor and working conditions including fire safety.