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Myanmar garment workers stand strong, win new pact

4 June 2020

Workers at the Myan Mode garment factory in Myanmar (Burma) are celebrating the return to the job of many recently fired union members.

Following a two-month fight against the factory's attempt to use COVID-19 to destroy their union, they won an agreement...that immediately reinstates 25 fired union members and brings back within two months 50 workers who joined strikes to protest the employer's actions. It also guarantees the recall of hundreds of other fired union members when operations return to normal as the pandemic eases.

...Myan Mode permanently fired all 520 union members...citing a decrease in orders due to COVID-19. Yet the owners retained more than 700 non-union workers and continued to operate the factory....

"The central factor in our victory was that our members stood strong", says Moe Sandar Myint, a union leader at FGWM. "Although we could not achieve full justice, the employer and the brands could no longer ignore our demands entirely. Our workplace union fought doggedly to win the survival of our union, and we now live to fight another day."...

To ensure the agreement at Myan Mode is honored, the company has agreed to form a monitoring committee with a third party that is neither the company nor the union. The committee, created in consultation with nongovernmental organizations that include the Solidarity Center, will assess whether laws and company regulations are being followed as dismissed workers are rehired, and it will operate until at least the end of 2020.

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