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22 Apr 2021

Industrial Workers' Federation Of Myanmar

Myanmar: Workers' federation calls on brands to protect garment workers against lay-offs & violence under the military regime

" IWFM position and requests to all multinational brands and suppliers", 22 April 2021

...What is the situation?
Many workers are afraid to go back to work, because of the total lack of security in the industrial zones. Thousands of workers have returned to their home villages during the violent crackdown...when military killed over 100 people in that industrial area. Many trade union leaders had to go into hiding, because military started searching for them at factory level and at their homes. For many of them it is now difficult to return to work, due to lack of transportation and due to the many military checkpoints on the roads, where people are checked and arbitrarily detained or shot.

...the military is arbitrarily stopping workers on the streets demanding that they hand their phones to soldiers or under threat of arrest they obliging workers, if they do not have phones, to pay 20,000 MMK. During the 14-15 March crackdown, around 37 Chinese owned factories were burned or damaged....

..many workers are afraid to go back to work, fearing that their factories may also get burned in the future. The military regime cut phone lines and mobile internet, so it is nearly impossible for workers to inform their employers, if they cannot return to work. Due to cut of communication, even union members cannot contact their union representatives and inform the employers.

...in March, most factories have re-opened their plants and, in many cases already, their management are using the current situation, and the factory regulations, to lay off workers and trade union representatives, for not attending work for more than 3 days. In this way they avoid to pay severance allowance, that they should have to pay...

...due to reduction of orders, many suppliers need to retrench workers. Therefore, in this situation we are asking the brands to urgently request their suppliers not to terminate workers, without severance pay.

How we need to address to the situation:
In this situation we need to protect workers. We are calling on all multinational brands to work with unions and representatives of all brand suppliers in Myanmar, to protect workers who can’t go back to work...

We are requesting the following from brands and suppliers...
1. Brands should request their suppliers to give workers unpaid leave for an agreed period of time so that they will not lose their jobs.
2. In case of lay off due to the conflict situation, brands should protect workers from termination without severance.
3. Brands should inform all suppliers that they will not be penalized, if they deliver late the ordered goods, due to the situation.
4. Brands should ask suppliers to receive the list of all workers who have been terminated or not been paid in full to the brands.
5. In case of disputes on termination cases, Brands should require the employers to provide the list of all terminated workers.

IWFM requests to all brand suppliers (Employers):
1. Employers should not put pressure on workers to return to work, if the security situation does not allow their safe return to the workplace.
2. Employers should give workers unpaid leave for an agreed period of time.
3. Employers should refrain from terminating workers without severance pay if they do not come to work because of security concerns.
4. Employers should send the list of all workers who have been terminated or not been paid in full to the brands.
5. In case of disputes on termination cases, employers should provide the list of all terminated workers to brands...