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Better employee welfare key to improving garment industry

 

Garment businesses and stakeholders have identified opportunities to exploit synergies between different initiatives and improve labour welfare to enhance productivity in garment factories.

These opportunities were revealed during the Garment Sector Initiatives Coordination Meeting in Yangon on December 8. The event brought together 18 for-profit and not-for-profit organisations to discuss their experience based on the Myanmar Garment Industry’s 10-year strategy which launched in 2015.

The event was organised by the Business Innovation Facility (BIF), which is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The aim is to support the development of the garment sector in the country.

“The meeting aimed to understand the role and activities for others working in the sector, seek opportunities for cooperation, alignment and coordination of activities, and support implementation of the MGMA [Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association] Garment Industry 10-Year Strategy 2015-24,” Sebastien Moineau, BIF team leader, told The Myanmar Times.

Labour welfare and productivity

The Myanmar garment sector employs an estimated 400,000 workers, most of whom are female, in approximately 450 factories. Garment exports were estimated to amount to $2.1 billion in 2016, a 26 percent export growth compared to the previous year, making garments one of the largest export sectors for Myanmar.

Mr Moineau said that improving labour welfare in the sector enhances the productivity and performance of garment factories. The organisation delivered training on productivity and human resources to two batches of factories in 2015-17. Boston-based Tufts University then evaluated the result, which will be finalised and made public in the first quarter of 2018.

Initial results indicate that the training led to an average increase by four in the number of garment per worker per eight-hour shift across the factories. This was coupled with the use of productivity bonuses, meaning that workers will have benefited from this productivity rise through their take home pay -- an indicator of worker welfare. More workers were investing in education for their sons following the training, which also suggest that they were feeling financially more secure.

The other benefits of raising employee welfare include a more stable and productive workforce. As a result of the training, factories experienced a significant reduction in absenteeism for the first cohort of factories. This average reduction of 36pc suggests a more stable workforce and means that factories can better plan their day to day activities, meet production deadlines and increase profitability. Workers also tended to stay longer at the factories which suggest they were happier with their conditions.

An additional advantage is having empowered and motivated employees. Workers in factories who were trained were much happier to work overtime if they needed to, or to say when they felt they were being forced to do overtime against their will. This is considered an important component to ensure workers are happier and more productive as a result. Management also consistently reported improved teamwork between factory managers and staff, while workers reported that they were prouder of their work.

 

 

Source From: Myanmar Times