No help for factory workers left jobless by coronavirus fears

At least 1,600 workers from factories in Yangon and the delta region that were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak will not be given any unemployment benefits, an official has said.

Three garment factories in the Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone and the Ayeyarwady delta were shuttered last week because of a lack of raw materials usually imported from China.

But workers there are not eligible for a state unemployment insurance scheme passed in 2012 because it hasn’t been officially adopted yet, said Maung Maung Aye, director general of the Social Security Board.

“It is currently impossible to give them unemployment benefits because the policy has not been implemented,” he told Myanmar Now.

Employers currently contribute 3 percent to health, social protection, and workplace injury insurance while employees contribute 2 percent.

The jobless factory workers are still eligible for medical and childbirth benefits based on their social security contributions, Maung Maung Aye said.

A group of ten workers’ organisations on Tuesday called for laid-off staff to be re-employed in the same roles when the factories eventually re-open.

And they urged the government to hold a meeting with employers and employees to address the hardships people were facing because of the coronavirus panic.

More than 87,000 people from 58 countries have been infected with the new virus and 2,977 people have died as of March 1, WHO figures show.

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