Speaking at a conference on Saturday, Thein Swe, Union Minister of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population said that the government had plans to raise the minimum wage by the end of this year.
“Changing the minimum wage requires workers, employers, and skilled laborers to work together and cooperate with one another,” he explained, as quoted by 7Day.
In August 2015, the daily minimum wage was set at MMK3,600 “for a standard eight-hour work day.” Obviously, that’s barely enough to cover one person’s living costs, and there have been several protests and strikes with workers demanding a new wage of at least K5,600.
Last November, more than 2,000 workers held a demonstration in Hlaingthaya Township, explaining that rent for an 8-foot-by-8-foot bedroom in the area can cost up to K50,000 per month; this meant that under the current minimum wage, a worker would need to work between 11 and 14 days a month just to have a roof over their head with little left over for food, healthcare, and other basic necessities.
However, the K3,600 was still too much in the eyes of certain employers. Most notably, several garment factories complained that the wage was based on working hours and not productivity, and even threatened to shut down their businesses altogether.
A new national committee on minimum wage was set up last month, although their first meeting won’t be held until tomorrow (March 8).