Brands urged to adhere to existing commitments from Myanmar suppliers
Apparel industry associations and human rights groups have come together to condemn the military coup and the growing violence in Myanmar and urge companies shopping from the Southeast Asian country to maintain the dialogue and comply with all existing commitments to factories.
In an open letter, the American Apparel & Footwear Association and organizations in the US and Europe, including ETI Sweden, the Ethical Trading Initiative and the Fair Labor Association, called for the immediate restoration of democracy in Myanmar and the immediate release of all those arrested by the military / are arrested.
The letter expresses “deep concern” about the military coup of February 1, 2021 in Myanmar and the “ongoing and increasingly violent repression of the military against its own people”, including against leaders of trade unions and labor rights organizations.
The coup threatens to reverse the progress and thawing of relations between Myanmar and the international community that have lasted since 2011.
“If democracy is not restored, the country’s hard-won social and economic progress and the well-being of its people will be seriously jeopardized. In addition, the rights of ethnic minorities and women are particularly at risk after the coup, ”the letter said.
Apparel, shoes and accessories are three of the largest export sectors in Myanmar and account for a third of Myanmar’s total exports. Myanmar’s exports of clothing, shoes and accessories have more than tripled since 2016 to $ 5.8 billion. The sector is also a huge employer. According to the letter, around 500,000 workers are employed in the country’s almost 600 factories.
The groups say the coup is creating uncertainty that is already affecting factory and freight operations.
“In view of the disruptions on the ground and the potential for further international sanctions, the coup could lead to a reassessment of Myanmar as a stable procurement partner.”
The letter urges companies shopping from Myanmar to pay special attention to the safety and economic security of workers and to determine whether they are doing business, directly or indirectly, with companies known to be owned by the military Myanmar are or are controlled by them. It urges brands to “take steps to sever these relationships while making the best possible effort to protect workers who may be affected”.
“We also urge all brands to proactively work with suppliers in Myanmar and closely monitor the situation in all of their supplier factories,” the letter continues. “Businesses should strive to meet all existing obligations to factories (both in terms of payments and orders already in production), to ensure that workers are paid for the work they do, and, when necessary, to have lenient contract terms Extend delivery dates, especially because production and export are likely to be negatively affected due to various factors. ”
Fashion brands and retailers shopping in Myanmar were recently urged to Take action by trade unions and workers’ rights groups help end the military coup in the country – including public participation in the international condemnation of the seizure of power.
Retailers and brands that account for around 40% of Myanmar’s apparel exports – including C&A, H&M Group and Inditex – said they were last month deeply concerned about current developments in the country after the recent military coup.
just-style followed the consequences of the coup at the beginning of February: Apparel sector likely biggest loser from Myanmar coup.
Myanmar clothing industry executives and experts warn that the country’s clothing sector was already suffering from the coup when the military took power and arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders: The Myanmar clothing industry continues to be shrouded in uncertainty.
Global unions and the head of the International Labor Organization (ILO) have already taken a stand against the military takeover, and clothing brands have become brands urged not to abandon the country’s suppliers.