Evidence and voice for minimum wage revisions

Project Active from to Firms and Trade

This project will collect data for Myanmar’s minimum wage revision, exploring trade-offs of different minimum wage levels and assessing the role of workers and unions in influencing policy changes. This project will also investigate the extent union leaders encourage participation and how they are most effective.

This project’s objective is to respond to the Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar's (CTUM) request for evidence for policy dialogue on Myanmar’s minimum wage revision.

We will conduct a survey to collect data on garment workers’ wages, skills, living expenses, and beliefs of the optimal minimum wage. Minimum wage can ensure fair compensation for workers but can come at the cost of firm closure and unemployment when it is set too high compared to productivity.

Workers and Unions play a key role in raising minimum wages through participation in policy dialogues or strikes and their expectations on minimum wages play a part in sustainable industry growth. This study will show possible trade-offs involved with different hypothetical minimum wage levels and facilitate an evidence-based minimum-wage adjustment.

Some experimental features will be added to the surveys: exploring to what extent union leaders encourage participation in collective actions, encourage expression of one’s view about optimal minimum wage, and build consensus in groups and what are the mechanisms through which leaders are effective in these processes.

These questions are motivated by previous work on industrial relations in Myanmar garment sector, showing that the existence of workers’ leaders and their characteristics matter for resolution of labour disputes within factories. This project will provide evidence to help Myanmar balance trade competitiveness with fair worker compensation to support healthy relationships between employers and employees.