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#UnionWin as garment workers are reinstated

6 October, 2020Using the Myanmar Freedom of Association (FoA) Guideline, IndustriALL affiliate IWFM has achieved the reinstatement of three union leaders at Glory Fashion, who were dismissed after setting up a local union.

In May, Glory Fashion dismissed three union leaders, accusing them of violating employment contracts. Union leaders said it was a case of unionbusting, as the dismissals occurred after workers at Glory Fashion had set up a local branch of Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM).

In the weeks after the local union was formed, factory management was harassing the families of the local union leaders. They visited their parents in remote areas of Myanmar, threatening them to make their children move back. Thugs were also used to intimidated the union leaders.

Immediately after the dismissals, IWFM referred the case to the Township Conciliation Body, which ruled that the three union leaders did not violate the employment contracts and instructed the company to reinstate the workers.

As Glory Fashion refused to accept the ruling, IWFM referred the complaint to the Arbitration Body, which made same ruling, which the employer stubbornly refused to comply with. Not giving up, the union referred the case to the Arbitration Council, where the employer won.

In an attempt to resolve the situation, Irish fashion retailer Primark, who sources from the factory, engaged in negotiations with Glory Fashion and IWFM. The three union leaders were reinstated on 1 October with full back pay and benefits.

IWFM president Khaing Zar says that Primark’s support was important in reaching an agreement with the employer.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL textile director, says:

“This is yet another example of how the ACT dispute resolution mechanism, developed under the FoA guidelines, is proving to be effective in ensuring that workers’ fundamental rights are respected.”