Swedish multinational retail clothing company H&M has welcomed the uniform minimum wage that has been set by the government in Myanmar. A uniform minimum wage across all industries is essential for the sustainable economic development not only for the textile industry but also for the country as a whole, H&M said in its Sustainability Update.

The report said H&M also believes that the minimum wage should be reconsidered through an annual review mechanism, which is inclusive of key stakeholders. It aims at laying the foundation for a vibrant tripartite industrial relation and wage level negotiations process based on transparency, inclusiveness and peaceful negotiation.

The above has been addressed in two joint letters to the government of Myanmar. H&M has also met with the Myanmar Labour Ministry and expressed its expectations about setting minimum wage levels and annual review mechanisms to ensure that workers receive a fair wage.

H&M said its role is to contribute to a working environment in the factories where a skilled workforce has their wages annually reviewed and negotiated. The Swedish fashion label said it believes that meaningful collective bargaining is very important and is looking at ways to strengthen it. Workers’ ability to organise and negotiate about their rights is key to improve working conditions.

The decision on a minimum wage followed two years of often acrimonious debate between garment factory owners and labour unions. Myanmar’s government has targeted garments for rapid growth, and the declaration of minimum wage may help spur this, as it gives clarity on the law and labour costs to global apparel brands buying clothes from Myanmar.

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