FY 2018 Symposium on the Prevention of Labour Conflicts

Country report

The 6th JILAF Symposium on “Preventive Measures against Labour Conflicts in Multinational Enterprises in Asia” was held on August 8 under the theme of “Achieving social and economic development and the stability of workers’ lives through the establishment of constructive industrial relations.” The symposium was attended by a total of 65 people, including trade union representatives from Cambodia and trade union and employer representatives from Myanmar, two countries achieving striking economic development, as well as representatives of Japanese companies that have entered Cambodia and Myanmar, representatives of Japanese trade unions, companies, and government, and researchers.

After an opening address on behalf of the organizers from JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo, invited speakers from Cambodia and Myanmar reported on the present state of the labour situation and labour conflicts in their respective countries and efforts to prevent industrial disputes.

From Cambodia, the speaker introduced some distinctive labour conflicts and reported that the number of labour disputes was decreasing due to the application of labour laws. From Myanmar’s trade unions, the speaker introduced cases of conflicts occurring because employers did not recognize the rights of workers and reported that trade unions were endeavoring to prevent labour conflicts by educating workers about such matters as labour legislation, the minimum wage system, and work contracts, engaging in dialogue with companies entering the country, and concluding mutual cooperation agreements between labour and management. A representative of Myanmar’s employers, meanwhile, reported that the causes of labour conflicts in that country included a lack of understanding of laws by both labour and management, a lack of clarity in legislation itself, and different interpretation of laws by labour and management. To prevent conflicts, the speaker reported that efforts were being made to improve knowledge of legislation on the employer side, promote tripartite social dialogue among the government, labour, and management, and offer advice on labour legislation and labour policy to the government and legislature.

In addition to outlining its principles and basic policy relating to the building of constructive industrial relations, a Japanese company that has entered Cambodia and Myanmar delivered a highly suggestive report on measures for the prevention of labour conflicts, including such specific examples as the conclusion of global framework agreements and the holding of industrial relations workshops for executives and workers at the preparatory stage of entry.

After these reports, Associate Professor Yoshihisa Saito of the Kobe University Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies served as the coordinator for discussions with participants. First of all, at the suggestion of Associate Professor Saito, the present state of labour conflicts in Cambodia and Myanmar (their causes, objectives, means, and settlement) was brought into relief. Very lively discussions followed, including questions from the floor, a supplementary report on labour legislation in Myanmar, and a report on policies for the building of constructive industrial relations by industry.

Finally, JILAF Executive Director Masayuki Shiota summarized the main efforts being made to prevent labour conflicts and the spread of cooperative industrial relations. He also asked for the participants’ cooperation and support for JILAF, which, in addition to its usual activities, will continue to contribute to the building of constructive industrial relations through, among others, the publication of a report on a survey of industrial relations in Asia and the holding of a symposium for developed countries.