Thet Thet Zon, a garment worker in Myanmar, works eleven hours per day, six days per week. Thet Thet talks openly about what she earns, and what she spends, in the latest FWF video. Salaries are currently a topical issue in Myanmar, where the minimum wage is up for review.
Thet Thet has been working as a sewing operator for two years. She earns 125 dollars per month. What does she have left at the end of the month? Not enough. Her low salary forces her to borrow some money, with interest. ‘At the end of the month, I have to settle debts’, she says. ‘So there’s nothing much left. The circle of debts goes on.’
Although there are initiatives in Myanmar to improve working conditions, wages are still among the lowest in the world. When Myanmar passed its first minimum wage in September 2015, the legislation was widely perceived as an achievement for labour rights.
Currently the minimum wage is up for review. With the high inflations and rising costs of living, unions and Myanmar’s low-wage garment workers are making the case again for better wages.
Fair Wear Foundation has been working in Myanmar since 2015, mainly focusing on wages, freedom of association and child labour. FWF considers all wages below the legal minimum wage level as violating international labour standards. FWF brands are required to work with their suppliers on higher salaries.
FWF also acts against wage deductions and fines that factories impose to workers for a variety of reasons such as absences due to sick leave, late arrival at work or mistakes.