Govt seeks to help workers hit by pandemic in Myanmar

The government is searching for ways to give jobs to an estimated 250,000 local and migrant workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, said U Myint Kyaing, deputy minister of Labour, Immigration and Population.

He said the ministry is working with local and international organisations to help the workers.

“The government is seeking ways to help them get jobs again,” he said.

“We’ve organised employment exhibitions,” he added, “and are negotiating with employers to give them jobs.”

U Myint Kyaing said that despite COVID-19, 57 new factories opened in the country in April and May. “They needed hundreds of workers so they contacted us, and this opened up jobs for displaced workers.”

At the end of April, over 60,000 factory workers across the country were without jobs after 5658 factories, including 270 large ones, had shut down due to lack of raw materials or cancelled orders for their products, according to the ministry.

Also, thousands of farmers were affected because their produce could not be transported due to travel restrictions or the closing of the border with China, cutting off the country’s main destination for farm exports.

The Department of Rural Development, under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, recently launched a programme to provide jobs for the unemployed in some 2500 villages across the country under its K25 billion (US$18 million) COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

The Commerce Ministry is also looking for other markets for farm produce, such as Thailand, in order to make up for the losses due to the closing of China’s border, which usually buys a third of the exports.

U Myint Kyaing added that the government is working on redeploying the over 100,000 migrant workers who have returned home, after international travel resumes.

He said the government had received job offers from neighbouring countries and Japan to send workers once travel restrictions ease.

The private sector is also trying to help employ the returnees.

U Shein Win, chair of the Myanmar Construction Entrepreneurs Federation, said members of the group have job vacancies at construction sites for workers returning from foreign countries due to COVID-19.

He called on the workers to contact his office before July 17 if they are interested.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently warned that millions of migrant workers worldwide could face unemployment and poverty after returning from abroad.

Michelle Leighton, chief of the ILO’s Labour Migration Department, said that with the right policies, the returnees could be a major resource for their home countries’ efforts to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

“These migrants will bring with them talents and new skills, and in some cases capital, that can support efforts in their home countries to rebuild better,” she said.

Written by Myat Thura
Source: Myanmar Times
Published on 1 July 2020

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