With the beginning of reforms initiated since April 2011, Myanmar’s economic and political isolation has progressively ended. Its integration into the regional and global economy can be witnessed continuously. While Myanmar has high growth potential and development possibilities, a great number of prospective pitfalls and new challenges stand in the way of realizing them. As the development of economic activities capable of leading the national economy under the changed national order is crucial, the labour sector also needs to be well developed to complement the development of the economic community. At the same time, the trade unions and the other social partners will have to carefully develop policies that both allow Myanmar’s full economic integration into supply chains and thus reap the benefits of globalization while at the same time avoiding levels of exploitation ensuing from the “race to the bottom”. A weakening and infringement of labour rights and standards can be seen all over the world.
Therefore, the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) and its sectoral union federations are key partners of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Myanmar. Currently in Myanmar, both the CTUM and other union federations are organizationally still too underdeveloped to effectively represent their members’ interests and are struggling to attract new members and to maintain their current membership basis. Many officials and dues-paying members of the unions do not yet possess a clear understanding about the roles and responsibilities of labour unions in social dialogue and economic development affairs. FES Myanmar supports the CTUM and some other unions in the establishment and development of their organizations.