21 December 2015, Myanmar Times
The government’s labour recruitment offices are failing, leaving workers to scrounge for jobs through informal networks rife with opportunistic brokers, according to a new report.
In the absence of a functioning, official employment system, the vast majority of over 7000 workers interviewed – 72 percent – said they found jobs through friends, other workers or labour brokers. The International Labour Organization highlighted the finding in its latest study, the first in-depth look at domestic migration within Myanmar.
The unofficial channels, while easy to access, are for the most part unregulated, leaving the workers open to abuse, the ILO found.
Kim Rogovin, an ILO officer who prepared the report, said the unregulated recruitment of almost all of Myanmar’s internal migrant workers contributes to some of the injustices they face.
Of the 72pc who said they received assistance finding a job, 86pc said they knew the person who assisted them and 9pc said they used a labour broker, known as a pwe sar.
According to Ms Rogovin, none of the workers had used one of Myanmar’s 91 labour exchange offices, which are operated by the Ministry of Labour. Ideally, these offices distribute labour cards to workers who register their employment history and education, and then help to place them in appropriate jobs.
“Any person could go to that office, give their information and get placed,” she said. “It would be a formal way to get jobs. It would be monitored and could provide greater job security. But it’s not commonly used.”
All respondents made the decision to migrate for work due to a need for money and lack of available employment opportunities. It’s perhaps not surprising that they sought help from those around them rather than a government with a precedence of neglecting them.
These informal means, however, lead to some alarming patterns. Only 7pc of respondents had a written contract with their employer, despite the legal requirement. Of those who did have a contract, more than one-third said they did not fully understand the terms because it was either in a language they did not know or it had been shown to them only briefly, without enough time for it to be fully read and understood.