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Protecting workers in Myanmar

14 May, 2020IndustriALL affiliate IWFM has signed a framework for action with employers and ACT brands producing in the country, aiming to protect garment workers from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a crisis in Myanmar’s garment industry, with severe economic impacts for workers. In a union-led initiative, as many as 100,000 garment workers in Myanmar are set to benefit from measures agreed with brands and employers.

The parties commit to cooperate in good faith to secure the workplace health and safety of garment and footwear workers in Myanmar and mitigate the impact of the crisis on factories and workers.

This includes engaging with relevant organizations to mobilize resources for covering salary loss of workers in the industry from April to July, in coordination with the global action to support the garment industry, and supporting ILO research to calculate the necessary funding for salary losses.

The parties further agree to support the development of social protection floors, to extend social protection for workers and employers in the garment industry in Myanmar and to promote compliance with health and safety regulations.

An important feature of the agreement is to require compliance with the Myanmar Freedom of Association Guideline in ACT supplier factories and promote compliance in the entire industry.

The agreed statement outlines specific commitments for unions, employers and brands.

Trade unions commit to promote safe and healthy workplaces. This includes raising awareness among workers to follow the infection protection measures.

Employers similarly commit to promote safe and healthy workplaces based on the COVID-19 related regulations and guidance set by the Myanmar government, including actively engaging in dialogue and informing and consulting on the company’s business strategy in response to the pandemic and on possible joint measures to mitigate the crisis.

The global brands that have endorsed the statement (so far H&M, Inditex, Next, Tchibo and Bestseller) commit to paying manufacturers for finished goods and goods in production and maintaining quick and effective open lines of communication with supply chain partners about the status of business operations and future planning.

“The Myanmar FOA Guideline has laid the foundations of cooperation in the country’s garment industry and has enabled the parties to reach agreement on how they will respond collectively to the COVID crisis,”

says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft.

“This agreement is a concrete framework for further joint action to address the impacts of the next phase on factories and workers. We call upon all employers and brands sourcing in Myanmar to endorse it.”