NewsTextiles & Apparel

Brands failing to protect Myanmar’s RMG workers

BTJ Desk Report
Brands failing to protect Myanmar's RMG workers

Since the illegal military takeover in Myanmar, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre said it has identified 198 cases of labour and human rights violations affecting at least 104,000 workers in Myanmar’s garment sector, media reported.

Big fashion brands have failed to protect workers in their supply chains from widespread labour rights abuses with Inditex, Bestseller, Primark, and H&M being linked to most documented allegations, it claims.

These abuses range from inhumane working conditions and wage theft to the use of violence, arbitrary arrests and killings.

The most common allegations of abuse were reduced wages and wage theft (56%), followed by unfair dismissal (44%).

Nearly one quarter of the allegations related to repression of the right to freedom of association, with rights groups confirming that unionization in Myanmar is nearly non-existent.

“While the world focuses on other crises, Myanmar faces a perfect storm of protracted social, political and economic challenges – including economic recession and high levels of violence,” said Natalie Swan, head of labour rights, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

“Two years after Myanmar’s military coup, apparel brands sourcing from the country continue to show a concerning lack of action in ensuring respect for the rights of workers who make their clothes,” she added.

A Primark spokesperson told the media that while they work towards a responsible exit from Myanmar we continue to expect and monitor for compliance with their supplier Code of Conduct under what are very challenging and complex circumstances.

In response to the recent ETI report they have increased the size of their Ethical Trade team in Myanmar, who conduct the due diligence required throughout this period, enabling us to visit those factories they are still working with more regularly.

“’We continue to investigate any allegations raised, and, where appropriate our local team will work to facilitate remediation. The safety and wellbeing of our own employees and of those who make our clothes remains our highest priority,” the spokesperson added.

H&M declined to comment, while the other brands mentioned did not return a request for comment at the time of going to press.


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