313th Session of the ILO Governing Body, March 2012
Institutional Section, Agenda Item No. 7:
Complaint concerning the non-observance by Burma of Convention No. 87 on
Freedom of Association under Article 26 of the ILO Constitution
Statement of the United States Government
At the November 2011 meeting of the Governing Body the United States noted that new and important political developments gave us reason to be cautiously optimistic about the prospects for continued reform. The recent enactment of the Labor Organization Law and its implementing regulations provides the legal framework that can allow workers to exercise their right freedom of association.
We have noted that the ILO Committee of Experts has reviewed the new legislations and made note of some specific aspects of the law. We urge the Government to observe this guidance.
At the November Governing Body meeting we stated that the legislation was a critical and necessary step forward but alone, not sufficient. We applaud the Government’s action to put the law into force and call upon it to take the following steps to put it into practice:
- ensure that the new law is applied in practice to all legitimate trade union organizations seeking to represent workers in the workplace;
- make copies of the law available throughout the country so that interested workers can learn about registration procedures, the rules for organizing and operating a trade union, the right to strike, and other pertinent information relating to the functions, rights, duties and responsibilities of trade unions;
- ensure that legitimate trade unions will be registered expeditiously;
- continue to work with the ILO on the process of educating officials and workers and enhancing the capabilities of labor institutions.
- recognize the valuable role that labor activists can play in promoting and fulfilling the promise of the new trade union legislation; and
- unconditionally release those labor activists who remain in prison.
Let me emphasize very strongly that the United States Government is extremely encouraged by recent developments in the labor area and by the wider political reforms. Given the very significant positive changes we do not think this is the appropriate time to appoint a Commission of Inquiry. We should reserve judgment while we allow the Government to take the appropriate next steps. We hope that this will result in full freedom of association and trade union rights for all workers.