Labour rights activists from Myanmar speak about working conditions in the export-oriented garment industry

Venue: Bonn, German Development Institute, Tulpenfeld 6
Date and time: 22nd of February 2018, 6 – 8 p.m.

Two Myanmar labour rights experts – Mr. Thurein Aung of Action Labor Rights (ALR) and Ms. Myo Myo Aye of Solidarity for Trade Union Myanmar (STUM) will report on current labour rights concerns in the garment industry with a special focus on freedom of association and the role of labour groups and civil society organisations.

The garment industry in Myanmar has seen considerable growth over the past years, prompted by the opening up of the country to western investors and markets, and the increasing factory wages in Southern China. This growth brings needed employment to Myanmar’s population, especially in Yangon and Bago, two emerging hubs. But, this manufacturing industry also has his downsides.

In February 2017, SOMO together with Myanmar labour rights organisations Action Labor Rights and Labour Rights Defenders and Promoters (LRDP) published a report on the Myanmar garment industry.

‘The Myanmar Dilemma’ describes a series of labour rights and human rights issues in this industry, including very low wages, unlawful wage deductions, very long working days, unpaid and forced overtime, abuse of apprentices to avoid paying the legal minimum wage, child labour, unhealthy and unsafe working conditions and anti-union practices.
These issues need to be addressed urgently. European garment brands and retailers that are sourcing from Myanmar, or have plans to do so, have a responsibility to look into and tackle such concerns.

The two activists will provide up-to-date information about the situation in factories that produce for Western brands and retailers. We will look into obstacles to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Recent cases of push-back faced by factory unions will be presented. We will look into the role of sourcing companies in ensuring workers may fully enjoy their right to organise and bargain collectively.

Please note the event will be held in English with Burmese translation.

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