Trade Unions in Burma

Federation of Trade unions - Burma, [2002]


1949—The Trade Unions Congress of Burma (TUCB) was initially formed with assistance of the Anti-Fascist Peoples' Freedom League (AFPFL) and led by U Ba Swe and U Than Tun.

1950—The Burma Trade Union Congress (BTUC) was formed by Thakhin Hla Kywe and Thakhin Thwin.

1958—The Union of Labor Organization (ULO) was formed by U Thwin and Raschid.

1948-1962—It was called the “Time of Trouble” and by 1958 Burma's political condition was very chaotic. In spite of all the internal political issues, all these trade union national centers were very active. They were also active in the international trade union movement and the Socialist International movement.

1962—All independent trade unions were abolished by the military regime which later called itself the Burmese way to Socialist Program Party (BSPP). After that the Burmese military regime formed a Labor Association” which was run in a totalitarian manner by the single party system.

1988—After suffering the BSPP for nearly three decades, the people broke out in an uprising. Students with less responsible parts at home but with more active minds were the first to come out in attacking the military regime. Knowing that the students were saying what their parents were suffering, the workers came out in their support. During the peoples' uprising, the trade unions were formed in all the government sectors, including the military and the police.

The “All Burma Labor Union” was formed at the Htan Ta Bin High School, Hledan, Rangoon in September. U Khin Kyaw (now imprisoned for seventeen years) representing the Communications Union was elected as president. The trade unions took up demonstrations and stopped work in accordance with the call of the student union. When a coup was staged by the military on itself, all unions were outlawed and the leaders forced to either resign or be arrested.


The Federation of Trade Unions-Burma (FTUB) was formed in 1991, by exiled workers and students who had participated in the 8 August 1988 peoples' uprising.


The Federation of Trade Unions-Kawthoolei was formed in October 1998. The Karen Education Workers Union, the Karen health Workers Union and the Karen Agriculture Workers Unions are the affiliates of the FTUK.