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Myanmar’s First Labour Force Survey Spotlights Child Labour Issues

Myanmar has published its first broadbased survey of labour force conducted to provide in-depth information about the country’s manpower to assist informed planning and policy making. Carried out in March last year under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population, the “Labour Force, Child Labour and Schoolto-Work Transition Survey” uncovers child labour and youth employment issues in the country. The survey reveals that there are more than 1.1 million children in Myanmar engaged in child labour, approximately nine percent of the total population aged between five to 17 years of age. Among those, boys amount to 0.6 million and girls number 0.5 million.

The study, conducted in cooperation with the Central Statistical Organisation of Myanmar, became the first Labour Force Survey for the country in nearly three decades and covers a sample of 23,425 households drawn from Myanmar’s 2014 population and housing census sampling frame. The examination revealed that around 24.4 percent of working children endure a long work schedule of more than 60 hours per week, 37 percent work 50- 59 hours; this means they have to work from eight to ten hours a day and six days a week. Among the children occupied with hazardous work, 75 percent are of 15-17 years of age.

The report identifies four categories as the major hazards facing child workers at work: exposure to dust and fumes (40 percent); dangerous tools (16.5 percent); severe heat or cold (11 percent) and chemicals (9.5 percent). The survey has given support to building systems and capacity to pursue similar work on a regular basis for Myanmar government. Since the labour markets are dynamic, data needs to be updated at regular intervals, the International Labour Organization (ILO) emphasised.

They hope the survey to assist the government in developing inclusive and people-centric policies and programmes that would contribute to sustainable development and decent work for all, said Rory Mungoven, the ILO liaison officer in Yangon.