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Press Release

22 Nov 2023

Fashion brands failing to protect workers under Myanmar’s military coup

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New data reveals risk to garment workers in Myanmar is worsening.

New data released today (22 November 2023) suggests workers in Myanmar are facing increasing infringements of their rights – while fashion brands sourcing from the country are still failing to protect workers in this high-risk area of their supply chains.

Collaborating with partners and allies, BHRRC documented 105 labour and human rights violations in Myanmar’s garment sector in less than five months (between 16 February and 31 July 2023). Workers remain overworked for very little pay in Myanmar’s factories, with over half of the cases linked to allegations of reduced wages and wage theft and inhumane work rates. In addition, harassment and intimidation of the industry’s largely female workforce is continuing.

Allegations of abuse were linked to 68 apparel brands and retailers, illustrating the scale of abuse linked to global fashion supply chains. Brands most reported to have been sourcing from (or previously sourced from) factories where abuses are taking place include: Inditex (ZARA, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius; 10 cases), LPP S.A. (Sinsay, MOHITO, Reserved and HOUSE; 11 cases), H&M (8 cases), Lidl (8 cases), BESTSELLER (6 cases).

Of the 105 labour and human rights violations documented, this included:

  • 62 cases (59%) of reduced wages and wage theft;
  • 52 cases (52%) of inhumane work rates and mandatory overtime;
  • 47 cases (45%) of harassment, intimidation and abuse;
  • 44 cases (42%) of unsafe working conditions.

Natalie Swan, Labour Rights Programme Manager, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said: “Almost three years on from Myanmar’s military coup, our data continues to paint an alarming picture of the proliferation of human rights abuses against garment workers – many of whom are producing clothes for some of the world’s largest fashion brands. Things have been getting worse, with reports of gender-based violence, inhumane working conditions and other forms of abuse having become commonplace.

“Fashion brands relying on these garment workers for their profits are rightly under pressure to fully interrogate human rights risks in their supply chains. When companies source from a country where armed conflict or widespread violence is taking place, it is that firm’s responsibility to demonstrate how it is meeting this specific challenge. While some brands have already made efforts in this area, significant gaps remain. It is crucial these fashion brands ask themselves whether they can ensure abuses are not taking place against garment workers linked to their factories and confirm the absence of employer-military collusion. Brands, as well as their investors, which fail to do this while benefiting from the low cost of production in Myanmar can no longer avoid being complicit with a regime that is associated with brutal rights violations and repression.”


Note to editors:

  • The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre is an international NGO that tracks the human rights impacts (positive and negative) of more than 10,000 companies across nearly 200 countries. We seek responses from companies when concerns are raised by civil society.
  • The complete data on abuses in Myanmar’s garment sector can be found here.

Media contact: Priyanka Mogul (London-based), Media Officer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, +44 (0) 7880 956239, [email protected]