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Workshop on Safety and Labour Issues in the Myanmar Telecoms Sector

MCRB with the support of mobile operators Telenor and Ooredoo and the participation of the Factories and General Labour Laws Inspection Department (FGLLID) of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MOLIP), facilitated a peer-to-peer workshop on 7 October 2016 for mobile network operators and tier 1 and tier 2 subcontractors, and consultants.

Read more: https://www.myanmar-responsiblebusiness.org/news/discussion-issues-telecom-sector.html

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Workshop on Safety and Labour Issues in the Myanmar Telecoms Sector

  1. 1. Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon 7 October 2016
  2. 2. Current core funders: UK DFID DANIDA Norway Switzerland Netherlands Ireland Founders: MCRB Objective To provide an effective and legitimate platform for the creation of knowledge, capacity and dialogue concerning responsible business in Myanmar, based on local needs and international standards, that results in more responsible business and thereby contributes to sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. MCRB defines ‘responsible business’ as ‘business activities that work for the long- term interests of Myanmar and all its people’. www.myanmar-responsiblebusiness.org 15 Shan Yeiktha Street, Sanchaung, Yangon Tel/Fax: 01 510069
  3. 3. MCRB publications and translations www.mcrb.org.mm myanmar.responsible.business
  4. 4. Sector-Wide Impact Assessments (SWIA) The mining SWIA is the fourth sector-wide impact assessment project undertaken by MCRB, following the publication of previous SWIAs
  5. 5. Myanmar ICT Sector Wide Impact Assessment (SWIA) http://www.myanmar- responsiblebusiness.org/swia/ict. html
  6. 6. Fieldwork period: November 2014 – February 2015
  7. 7.  General lack of worker-management engagement in most companies across the ICT value chain  A few companies provided grievance mechanisms (fibre companies had letter boxes but few complaints addressed)  Unskilled workers relieved to secure a job at all → afraid of raising complaints  At fibre factories, workers unaware of basic association and collective bargaining rights; some aware of the right but assume company does not allow them to form union  No women (justified as unsafe) or only as manual workers on construction sites  Racial and religious tensions were observed in some areas, mainly where communities identified the company or its workers as Muslim  Several cases where workers were brought on to dig fibre cable trenches due to a debt owed to the group leader (debt bondage)  General lack of basic measures to prevent underage workers in fibre cable digging in particular  Workers travel long distance so children regularly left with someone connected to the works in the worker camps during the 10 hour shift periods.
  8. 8.  Employment contracts generally not used; limited exception of direct, permanent employees of a tower company (no wage slips provided)  When jobs of manual labourers and construction workers secured through relatives/connections, wages were negotiated with no contracts  Daily wage workers typically worked every day possible to maximise income while work available, exceeding legal working time limits (?)  Awareness of rights to wages and benefits varied considerably; very low level of understanding of their rights vis-à-vis employers or the Government.  Tower construction companies: reported cases of no rest, no payment of overtime, wages varied (direct/indirectly employed)  Fibre line digging: cases of pressure to work till target is reached, not given set rest if not reached, wages not covering basic needs and do not reflect level of difficulty (type of soil), sick pay not provided  Working conditions for fibre cable digging particularly harsh: long distances of trenches dug manually, 12 hour work days, injured workers have to repay any medical expenses, Language barriers, Little to no facilities or equipment were provided to fibre cable diggers etc...  Some fibre factory workers were provided with accommodation
  9. 9.  Workers of subcontractors commonly not informed about which tower construction company or telecoms operator the tower was being built for: health and safety and other operational standards may not have been transmitted to the site level?  Workplace attention to health and safety varied greatly amongst the tower and fibre sites visited  Often no personal protective equipment (PPE) used (even where workers had PPE to hand)  Failure to ensure that emergency first aid kits available at tower sites  For fibre factories: PPE +some training provided
  10. 10.  Dealing with local non-state armed groups: access fee, delays due to blocked access to sites, lack of consultation with local groups (NSAG) etc; fire-arms being carried by NSAGs;  Workers aware of landmines around infrastructure in conflict areas  Tower company acknowledgement and action concerning their responsibility for the safety of workers was uneven: ◦ Some assume that this is responsibility of subcontractors, - some provided safety and skills trainings ◦ Some labour subcontractors fear reporting incidents for fear of reprisal or lost business even with incident reporting system in place  Choosing to operate without contracts between tower companies and their subcontractors was a common occurrence
  11. 11. Workshop objective Establish a forum for Telecoms companies and their tier 1 subcontractors to identify lessons learned and best practices in tower construction and fibre laying operations in Myanmar through experience sharing in the following areas: Health and safety • To discuss problems, challenges or concers Telecoms companies in Myanmar have in implementing health and safety standards at workpace, fibre factories and during fibre cable diging; • Ways of improving future work on safety in network construction in different locations with possible focus on location-specific safety requrements, groups at risk, hst community safety; Labour • Challenges for telecoms operations: human rights risks, ways of monitoring, ways of mitigating, positive case studies; • Sharing of recent experiences; • Challenges of applying international standards in Myanmar in the absence of developed national legal frameworks; Company/community engagement and grievance mechanisms • Current practice and recent challenges; • Ways to improve work with civil society on monitoring adverse impacts Identification of follow up actions; ongoing initiatives which can support action.
  12. 12. Please add our RSS feed to stay up-to-date on our activities http://www.myanmar-responsiblebusiness.org/rss.xml www.mcrb.org.mm myanmar.responsible.business