Aung Myin Hmu Project (Industry Solutions for Safe Employment)
Publication Date: 03/09/2021
Despite the benefits of migration for rural households, the process is difficult for migrating family members. One of the main drivers of trafficking is the need for women to travel to look for better employment opportunities, making them vulnerable to unscrupulous brokers. Enhancing job opportunities for women and improving access to educational and vocational facilities are key to combating trafficking and creating a successful migration. The Aung Myin Hmu journey began in 2017 with a recognition that female migrant workers were not receiving the skills necessary to produce quality work and improve their earnings, due to a lack of quality driven training provision for the industry. Once in-factory, reports from CARE International showed that 1 in 2 women workers in garment factories in South-East Asia have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
Aung Myin Hmu (AMH) a project of CARE International in Myanmar, worked in partnership with Legal Clinic Myanmar and Business Kind Myanmar (BKM) and in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population (MoLIP) to improve the quality and safety of employment for urban migrant women. AMH established a Garment Skills Training Centre (TC), supported the establishment of accredited training lines in factories and trained factories in policy for safe and respectful workplaces (prevention of sexual harassment) in garment factories facilitated essential legal and social support to female garment workers. Working with private sector, legal, social and service providers to improve workplace and community protection systems against Gender Based Violence (GBV), AMH ensured that migrant women were able to have easy access to appropriate services.
The project period saw the growth of the industry from around 400,000 workers in 2017 to 700,000 at the start of 2020. COVID 19 had a huge impact on the industry with a 25% of workers losing their jobs or being furloughed, and then in February the military coup impacted the industry further as Brands were uncertain, they would continue working in Myanmar and factories lost orders.
AMH’s two-month courses were designed to train modern sewing methodology on semi-automatic machines, labour law and rights at work though the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Better Rights at Work Programme (BRAW) and basic skills, including communication, problem-solving skills, nutrition and personal finance management. Sexual harassment (SH) and environmental awareness training completed the curriculum. Factories have told us that AMH workers are more systematic, progress faster, can use many machines and change styles more easily.
The project promoted the residence of workers as AMH trainees had a higher rate of productivity and earned higher salaries than informally trained workers, enabling them to support their families and make healthier food choices. Trainees gave feedback that the training enabled them to be more discerning in their choice of factory, choosing those with better working conditions and which product they preferred.
A higher productivity rate also increased the factories’ profits and resilience to shocks though it is noted that those factories who placed value in training, were also likely to be those who placed value in workers and therefore could achieve a higher productivity.
During the project period, 5428 trainees graduated from AMH training centres, AMH supported government venue and factory training line of AMH partner garment factories. More than 1400 garment workers graduated from AMH garment training centre.
AMH continued to advocate for the approval of 11 drafted National Occupational Competency Standards (NOCS). Significant challenges, including political sensitivities among stakeholders about the inclusion of industrial relations content contributed to the delays in approval. However, AMH delivered the highest number of test candidates out of all assessment centres in Myanmar and made a major contribution to the overall testing numbers, convincing factories of the relevance of NOCS for the garment sector.