The European Union Delegation and the Heads of Mission of EU member states accredited to Myanmar issue the following statement:
Tomorrow is the World Day for Safety and Health at Work. According to UN statistics more than two million people lose their lives every year from work-related accidents or diseases world-wide. Reducing risks for workers is a global challenge requiring international cooperation.
We are proud to work with the Government of Myanmar to improve labour standards and are encouraged by its ambition to progress in this area. We welcome that the Government has introduced a draft law on occupational safety and health to Parliament, sending a clear signal that workers have a right to be safe and healthy at their workplaces. The draft law also emphasises that the Government, workers and employers have a responsibility to cooperate on prioritising safety. From our point of view, the employer should have the responsibility for safety and health at the workplace. At the same time, unnecessary barriers should not be placed on businesses with regard to permissions.
It is important that the law is designed in a way that protects workers and promotes a good business environment that will attract foreign investment. For any meaningful reform in this area, a functioning labour market – based on tripartite structures – is essential. Against this backdrop, Denmark and the European Union are proud to be partners in the “Initiative to Promote Fundamental Labour Rights and Practices in Myanmar.” EU member states also provide important support to promote labour rights in Myanmar.
Government leadership and the active participation of employers’ and workers’ organisations have made this initiative a success. We welcome the joint roadmap for labour market reform, with clear objectives to be achieved by January 2019. We acknowledge reforms aimed at enhancing freedom of association and laws promoting modern labour dispute settlement, while further alignment with recommendations by the International Labour Organization is needed.
We remain committed to supporting Myanmar in its endeavour to strengthen labour standards as part of the government's broader goal of achieving inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.