June 27, 2022
Myanmar’s garment sector is seeing an increase in orders since late 2021, mainly due to the already very low minimum wage (set in 2018), Myanmar Kyat (MMK) devaluation which, together with a skilled labour force, makes Myanmar competitive.
However, the recovery of the sector takes place against a background of deteriorating human rights in Myanmar. Since the coup, labour rights and human rights violations have increased. The ongoing economic contraction and high inflation are also impacting on the physical health and mental well-being of the workers. Workers are reluctant to raise grievances for fear of losing their jobs. It is, therefore, more essential than ever that all international garment brands who source from Myanmar focus on ensuring decent work for all workers in the sector.
In recent months, Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business, SMART Myanmar and EuroCham Myanmar have held preparatory discussions with the two trade union federations (TUFs) and seven of the labour rights organizations (LROs) which continue to be active in Myanmar1. The discussions identified priority issues and labour rights violations, and recommendations for prevention and remedy. TUFs, LROs want to encourage brands/retailer to use their leverage to prevent human rights violation and achieve improved conditions for workers, in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Similarly, a preparatory discussion was held on 26 May with international garment brands and brand associations, at which MCRB/SMART presented the priority issues and recommendations raised by the labour groups. Brands confirmed that they had an interest in regular meaningful dialogue and saw potential issues for deeper collaboration.
If you are interested to attend this meeting, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org