Norway-Asia Business Review: Supporting Young Workers in Supply Chains in Malaysia and Myanmar

A feature in Norway-Asia Business Review's first issue of 2017 hones in the importance of supporting and protecting young workers in Malaysia and Myanmar's manufacturing industry, focusing on CCR CSR's work with international brands in the region including HP and H&M.

Child labor is a big challenge for brands sourcing from Myanmar, but CCR CSR also raises awareness on the importance of not shunning young workers (those who've reach the legal working age) from the workforce, as is often the case in factories. Young workers are entitled to special protections such as shorter working hours, no overtime, lighter work, no hazardous work etc.  But rather than meet their special needs and nurture a workforce with great potential, many factories prefer to hire over 18s only, thereby pushing young workers into the informal sector where they are more likely to be exposed to health and safety risks as well as exploitation.

"In Myanmar it is legal for children at the age of 14 to work for 4 hours a day. After the age of 16 they can work longer, but only with a doctor’s certificate stating they are fit to work and under a set of protective regulations. We are working with foreign buyers to establish factory management systems that do take into account the legal requirements and what that means for child protection." CCR CSR's Exective Director Ines Kaempfer told the Norway Asia Business Review.

"Taking responsibility doesn’t just entail having guards to turn away children. Preventing child labour means supporting the growth of the economy in a sustainable way and specifically support youth programs. Companies could offer classes to the young workers so they have a chance later on to decide what they want to do."

Meanwhile in Malaysia, 40% of the workforce is comprised of migrant workers. Many of them are young, female workers out on their first job, leaving them vulnerable and susceptible to exploitation.

"We work with brands and their suppliers to introduce trainings in factories that target both the workers themselves and the management. Ensuring management understands the challenges young workers face is a crucial first step in creating decent working conditions," Ms. Kaempfer added.

“With our training program we teach supervisors to be more understanding and apply very practical communication skills so the girls feel safe to speak their minds. The girls are trained about professional behaviour, how to get ahead, and be more proactive. Of the girls that received the training more of them have advanced to higher positions in the company a few years down the line. One of the businesses we work with in Malaysia is HP.” 

Read the full article below.


Friday, April 14, 2017