Myanmar: IndustriALL endorses call for sanctions against military junta to bring 'peaceful change'
"Myanmar one year after the coup", 1 February 2022
One year ago today, the Myanmar military staged a coup after the military-led party was defeated in a democratic election. IndustriALL Global Union condemned the coup the same day, and immediately began working with affiliated unions in Myanmar to protect workers’ rights until democracy could be restored....
Unions in Myanmar and IndustriALL called on business to ensure that workers’ rights were protected during the coup. However, it quickly became clear that this was impossible: local factory owners used the coup as an opportunity to fire the unionized workforce, giving the details of union members to the police.
Union leader Khaing Zar Aung says:
“No democratic trade union can operate now at factory level.”
She calls the situation “modern slavery”, explaining that the president of her union was recently threatened with assassination. Workers do forced overtime as day labourers and are often not paid. She believes that effective due diligence is not possible in these conditions.
The situation led the labour movement of Myanmar, backed by IndustriALL, to call for comprehensive economic sanctions against Myanmar, and for global companies to cease to do business in the country...Chevron, Bridgestone and C&A have pulled out of the country altogether.
The democratically elected government formed a government in exile, mostly based in Thailand. The National Unity Government (NUG) is made up of members of the National League for Democracy, the party that won the election, as well other parties that respect the democratic outcome, and groups representing ethnic minorities...
While the NUG does not officially support the call for sanctions, it does call on global business to refuse to cooperate with the military regime, or to pay any taxes or fees. The labour movement meets with the NUG labour ministry on a weekly basis to coordinate efforts to protect workers’ rights.
IndustriALL believes that the strategy to isolate the military junta diplomatically and economically is the most effective way to bring peaceful change to Myanmar. The campaign for sanctions will intensify, and increasing pressure will come on companies that continue to operate in Myanmar.
IndustriALL and our sister organization industriAll European Trade Union today wrote to the European Commission demanding an end to the EU’s preferential Everything But Arms trade agreement.