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Repression continues at garment factory in Myanmar

12 May, 2022More than a year after the military coup d'état in Myanmar, the state-sponsored repression at garment factories in Myanmar continues. IndustriALL is reiterating its call for brands to leave Myanmar as due diligence is not possible in a military dictatorship.

In April three garment workers at Sioen Myanmar Garment were arrested for their involvement in the civil disobedience movement. Among the three is a women union leader, detained after sharing political posts on social media.

According to IndustriALL affiliate IWFM, the three unionists had been released.

IWFM president and treasurer of Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar (CTUM) Khaing Zar, says:

“The illegitimate junta regime must stop infringing human rights of union members; everyone has freedom of expression and thought.

“We call on the international community to understand the situation in Myanmar’s garment industry. Not only are workers constantly exposed to the risk of being arrested, but employers are ignoring all regulations and are treating workers like Myanmar is a lawless country by taking advantage of the current political situation.”

After the coup, the employer stopped respecting the collective agreement signed between the union and the employer before the coup. IWFM members at the factory report that the employer hired temporary workers only to terminate them before the end of the three-month probationary period on the pretext of redundancy. After the termination, the employer re-hired the workers.

It is believed that the employer does not want to put the workers under a regular employment contract, refusing to pay the statutory minimum wage of 4,800 Kyat (US$2.6) per day.

IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary Shinya Iwai says:

"The continued the repression shows that employers cannot protect workers’ rights. Sioen must take full responsibility and find remedies for the workers. ILO and other international bodies should take action on the violation of freedom of association and freedom of expression, and give guidance to its members to review their relationship with Myanmar."

Sioen Myanmar Garment employs over 700 workers in the industrial zone of Hlaing Thar Yar Township, producing jackets and trousers under its own brand.