Garment workers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic continue receiving financial assistance through a €5 million (7.9 billion MMK) European Union emergency cash fund, “Myan Ku”. Between 1 May and 3 August, halfway through the initiative, “Myan Ku” has distributed emergency cash payments to laid-off and suspended workers, reaching 45,061 payments, equivalent to over 4 billion MMK (or €2.5 million) in total assistance provided so far.
"Myan Ku supports us during a time when we really need it so everyone who receives such assistance from the fund will be secure for a while and they will also be happy like me. I also want to get my job back as soon as possible to support my family.” said Ms. Shunn Lae Nway, a garment factory quality controller who lost her job in May.
The EU Myan Ku Fund cash transfer programme has been extended until 30 November 2020. Cash transfers will continue to be provided to garment, textile and footwear industry workers who have lost their jobs. Unemployed pregnant workers, migrant workers and workers who are using their unemployment period to enroll in educational and skills training programmes can from now on benefit from this support.
The broadening of the target group will enable that the nutritional needs of unemployed pregnant workers are met. It will specifically help migrant workers and workers facing discrimination in employment to receive essential basic support that could facilitate their return into the workforce.
There is a very important gender dimension to Myan Ku. 90% of the jobs created within the garment sector employ women, who often leave quite poor conditions in their home villages behind to come to work in factories where they can earn decent salaries and provide support for their families. This provides them with confidence. An objective of Myan Ku is to safeguard these jobs, so that women who found jobs in this sector can go through this crisis and emerge with their livelihoods intact.
In total, 26,578 factory workers from about 230 factories in the garment, textile and footwear industries have been enrolled and supported since the programme started. Cash transfer support has ranged from 35,000 MMK per month to 125,000 MMK per month. Workers who are only employed part-time in the factories and earn less than 100,000 MMK can receive 50% matching assistance from Myan Ku.
“The factory I worked for closed without giving any severance compensation to the workers. I then received 125,000 Kyats on 15 June from the EU Myan Ku Fund. I could not believe I would receive this financial support… I feel so happy.” said Ms. Aye Aye Khine, a sewing operator who lost her job and received no severance pay after her employer went bankrupt and permanently closed in April 2020.
Myan Ku was set up in April 2020 by the European Union as a rapid response measure to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on predominantly female garment workers in Myanmar who lost their jobs due to the crisis. Myan Ku aims to provide cash support for around 50,000 garment workers, compile data and research on the impact of CoVID-19 on the garment sector in Myanmar, and in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, offer technical guidance in the set-up and refinement of future unemployment insurance schemes.
The initiative is funded by the EU’s NEXUS Response for Myanmar and implemented by the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS) and sequa’s SMART Textile & Garments project staff.
Local stakeholders and organizations supporting this successful and innovative project include the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar, the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association, the Centre for Economic and Social Development, Pyi Gyi Khin, Opportunities NOW, and Thone Pan Hla.
Cash transfers are remitted to workers digitally using Wave Money. To support garment workers in need, and as part of their corporate social responsibility, Wave is providing services to the Myan Ku project without their regular transaction fees.
The Myan Ku eligibility criteria are published on the SMART website: www.smartmyanmar.org.
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