The minimum wage was 240 thousand tugriks ($100) per month and applied to both public- and private-sector workers. According to the CMTU, the minimum wage did not provide an adequate standard of living.
In September the CMTU officially filed a collective bargaining dispute with the government. The CMTU claimed its tripartite agreement with the government and the National Employer’s Federation regarding salaries, working conditions, and full employment was not properly enforced.
Laws on labor, cooperatives, and enterprises set occupational health and safety standards, which apply equally to local and foreign workers. During the year the government adopted four new standards related to labor safety and hygiene, which GASI stated strengthened regulations. Nonetheless, GASI noted that many standards remained outdated.
Labor inspectors assigned to GASI’s regional and local offices are responsible for enforcement of all labor regulations and have the authority to compel immediate compliance. Enforcement of laws governing minimum wage, working hours, and occupational safety and health was limited due to the small number of labor inspectors. According to GASI neither the penalty nor the number of inspectors was sufficient to enforce compliance. GASI reported that its inspectors needed better training on investigative techniques and evidence collection. The new law on petty offenses increased fines for violations; however, GASI stated the law also increased the investigative workload and weakened the role of its inspectors. Inspectors generally did not conduct inspections in the informal sector.
GASI acknowledged that fines imposed on companies for not complying with labor standards or for concealing accidents were insufficient to induce management to resolve problems. The CMTU also reported that government agencies and enterprises often failed to comply with regulations requiring them to allocate budget resources to workplace safety. Moreover, safety experts responsible for labor safety and health were often inexperienced or had not received training.
The law on pensions was amended to allow for participation by small family businesses and workers in the informal economy (such as herders) in pension and social benefit programs. These categories of workers were able to access health care, education, social entitlements, and an optional form of social security.
Many workers received less than the minimum wage, particularly at smaller companies in rural areas. The CMTU also expressed concern that workers in the construction sector, in which work is constrained to a few months because of the extreme winters, were sometimes pressured to work long hours, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
The CMTU continued to raise concerns about the large number of foreigners employed at the Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi mines, seeking to assure that citizen labor predominated. Although employers argued that the local pool of skilled and semiskilled labor was inadequate, the CMTU countered that skilled workers were available but underutilized. Labor representatives also stated that foreign workers received salaries many times higher than equally qualified citizens doing the same jobs.
Many foreign workers, the majority of whom were Chinese mining and construction workers, reportedly worked in conditions that did not meet government regulations. GASI reported it inspected workplace health and safety conditions for foreign workers but did not have the authority to monitor wages or inspect living conditions.
The status of an estimated 1,130 workers from the DPRK was not fully known; secrecy surrounded their contractual agreements, labor rights, and compensation. NGOs reported that the government assumed little jurisdiction over DPRK workers’ contracts, relying on agreements with the DPRK government and the actions of mediator companies. These workers were employed in many sectors, especially during the summer, reportedly in harsh working and living conditions. Observers and government officials stated that DPRK laborers likely failed to receive the minimum wage, often worked in substandard conditions, and had much of their wages paid directly to the DPRK government.
Reliance on outmoded machinery, poor maintenance, and management errors led to frequent industrial accidents, particularly in the construction, mining, and energy sectors. According to the NHRC, lack of proper labor protection and safety procedures in the construction sector made it particularly susceptible to accidents. The CMTU stated that workers had limited awareness of their legal right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions.
During the year GASI provided safety training to companies and private enterprises. According to GASI the training resulted in a decrease in the number of industrial accidents in sectors such as light industry, food, health, and education, in which accidents frequently occurred in the past.