Myanmar Unions Demand Sanctions, Garment Workers Fear Job Losses

 Myanmar Unions Demand Sanctions, Garment Workers Fear Job Losses

Myanmar Unions Demand Sanctions, Garment Workers Fear Job Losses

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military coup on February 1, 2021, which overthrew the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup has sparked widespread protests and strikes across the country, with workers from various sectors joining the movement.

The garment industry is one of the largest employers in Myanmar, with over 700,000 workers, mostly women, working in factories producing clothes for international brands. The industry accounts for around 30% of the country’s exports and is a crucial source of foreign exchange.

However, the political crisis has put the industry at risk, with many international brands suspending or canceling orders due to concerns over human rights violations and the safety of their workers. This has led to fears of job losses among garment workers, who are already struggling to make ends meet due to low wages and poor working conditions.

In response to the situation, Myanmar’s labor unions have called for international sanctions against the military regime, arguing that targeted sanctions on the military and its business interests would be an effective way to pressure the junta to restore democracy and respect human rights.

The Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar (CTUM) has urged international buyers to continue sourcing from Myanmar but to ensure that their suppliers are not linked to the military regime. The union has also called for a boycott of companies that have ties to the military, such as the Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and the Myanmar International Cooperation Agency (MICA).

The CTUM has also demanded that the government and employers guarantee job security and fair wages for workers during the crisis. The union has called for the suspension of the labor laws that allow employers to terminate workers without notice or compensation.

The garment workers themselves have also been organizing protests and strikes, demanding the restoration of democracy and the protection of their jobs and rights. Many workers have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which is a grassroots movement of civil servants, healthcare workers, and other professionals who have refused to work under the military regime.

The CDM has called for a nationwide strike on May 1, International Workers’ Day, to protest against the military regime and demand the release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi.

The situation in Myanmar is complex and challenging, with no easy solutions. However, it is clear that the workers and unions in Myanmar are determined to fight for their rights and demand justice. The international community must support them in their struggle and hold the military regime accountable for its actions. Sanctions may be a necessary tool to achieve this, but they must be targeted and not harm the workers and their families who are already suffering.