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Covid-19 spreads in Myanmar’s factories

25 August, 2021Two members of Industrial Workers’ Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) have died from Covid-19 and more than 100 of factory-level union leaders have been infected, as the health protocols on handling the Covid pandemic are being largely ignored.

Since the military coup, many garment manufacturers have ignored the health protocols implemented by the previous democratically-elected government. When Covid-19 cases skyrocketed in July this year, the lack of implementation of the health protocols have led to an increasing number lot of workplace infections.

Until today, 14,499 Myanmar people have died from Covid-19 and 375,871 have been infected.

Khaing Zar, the president of IWFM, says:

“There is no concrete action to remedy the worsening situation, and we have raised this with employers and brands several times. Some employers have even collaborated with the military to identify and persecute local union leaders.

“There are no workers’ rights, no justice and no remedy. That’s why we are calling all investors to isolate the regime, cut off their resources and drive them out.”

According to the unions, Myanmar’s labour office has been largely dysfunctional since the coup in February. Many garment employers have unilaterally dismissed workers who have been absent from work over safety concerns.

There are reports of employers violating labour laws and collective agreement, with reports of workers not receiving severance pay after dismissal, and employers closing down factories without properly consulting unions and workers.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, says:

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the families of the two IWFM members who died from Covid-19 and condemn the junta and employers for mismanaging workers’ health and safety. We support IWFM’s call for comprehensive economic sanctions against the military junta.”

At 11.30 CET on 27 August, IndustriALL is hosting a webinar on the campaign to call for comprehensive economic sanction against the military junta in Myanmar. You can watch it on Facebook live.