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Framework for a responsible business disengagement from Myanmar

22 February, 2023IndustriALL Global Union and a number of garment brands with operations in Myanmar have jointly developed a framework for a responsible exit from the country.

After the military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, IndustriALL supported a call by Myanmar unions for all multinational companies operating in the country to disengage. Human and workers’ rights violations have multiplied in the country under the military dictatorship and as the country spirals into civil war, IndustriALL fears that the companies will become unwilling accomplices to a growing humanitarian crisis. 

In 2021, IndustriALL’s congress unanimously decided to demand comprehensive economic sanctions against Myanmar and IndustriALL has engaged with the companies to create the framework for a responsible exit. In November 2022, IndustriALL began discussions with a number of garment brands operating in the country to outline what a responsible exit would like that.

That discussion has concluded with Framework Principles of a Brand’s Responsible Business Disengagement from Myanmar.

The document is not a commitment by these brands to cease their operations in Myanmar, but an agreement on what would constitute a responsible exit. 

The framework outlines a business exit negotiated with workers’ representatives that ensures that the rights of workers are protected, adequate severance is paid to those affected, and ensures that cases of workers’ rights violations that are still pending will be remediated. Although the framework was developed by the garment industry, its principles can be applied to other sectors of the economy.

IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie said: 

 “The ethics of doing business in Myanmar have been complicated, with many companies genuinely unsure of how to do the right thing. At IndustriALL, we have been guided by the representatives of the affected workers, the union movement of Myanmar, to call on companies to cease their operations.  

“Increasingly, the balance of opinion is that planning a responsible exit is the only position consistent with upholding global human rights standards. Due diligence is not possible under a military dictatorship and in a state of civil war. 

“This document defines a responsible exit. We call on all companies doing business in Myanmar – not just the garment industry – to use this framework to plan their exit from the country.”