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ACT brands condemn Myanmar coup

19 February, 2021Global retail brands sourcing ready-made garments from Myanmar have released a joint statement with IndustriALL condemning the military coup and affirming their commitment to democratic standards.

This is the first public statement from any segment of the business community on the coup in Myanmar. The brands – Bestseller, C&A, Esprit, H&M, Inditex, Lidl, New Look, Next, Primark, Tchibo and Tesco – declared that “as businesses, we are committed to fully respecting human rights and labour rights in our operations and supply chains, in particular, the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of opinion, and freedom of association under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

In 2019, the brands committed to Freedom of Association guidelines in Myanmar, recognizing the democratic right of workers to organize freely. Today’s statement carries this commitment into the political arena, by affirming the brand’s commitment to human rights, including freedom of assembly and speech. The statement concluded:

“Responsible business requires a context where fundamental human rights are respected.”

ACT – Action, Collaboration, Transformation - is a groundbreaking agreement between global brands and trade unions to transform the garment, textile and footwear industry and achieve living wages for workers through collective bargaining at industry level, freedom of association and purchasing practices. ACT is made up of 21 global brands and IndustriALL Global Union, representing its affiliate unions in garment producing countries.

IndustriALL condemned the military coup in a statement published on 1 February, saying:

 “IndustriALL calls on the military leaders to acknowledge that the fruit of economic growth and improvement of living standard is a result of democratization and peaceful co-existence of multiple political party since 2011. Resorting to violence, conflict and undemocratic rule will defeat Myanmar’s effort to attract foreign investor and international economic development”.

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches said:

“IndustriALL praises and supports this initiative of the business community that recognizes that democracy and respect for human and labour rights are imperative for business success and continuity. The reestablishment of democratic norms is imperative to keep jobs and new investments to improve the quality of life of Burmese people”.

In the statement, the brands commit to working with local factory owners and unions across more than 200 factories in the supply chain in Myanmar to ensure that freedom of association is implemented.