Myanmar: Female garment workers & union leaders emerge as leaders in pro-democracy protests
“Myanmar’s Defiant Garment Workers Demand that Fashion Pay Attention”, 12 March 2021
… [Ma Moe Sandar Myint] is now one of a number of garment workers turned union organizers who have been catapulted … to the forefront of a swelling political movement. Many are women. And most say that past experience organizing militant strikes and tight local networks while building the country’s garment factory unions has played a key part of preparing them for this new role.
The garment industry has grown rapidly in the country since the removal of international sanctions in 2016 … more and more Western countries have become important markets as companies like H & M, Inditex (which owns Zara), Primark and Bestseller started sourcing from factories in Myanmar.
This week, H & M became the first major retailer to confirm that it would cease placing further orders with its 45 suppliers in Myanmar.
Ma Tin Tin Wei … A garment worker for five years and union leader for four … organized a strike on her factory floor after the coup… “If there were rights violations before in factories, then under a military regime there is no question that things will be even worse for garment workers with low-wage jobs,”…
“Women garment workers in particular have a lot to lose,” said Shelley Marshall, an associate professor at the Business and Human Rights Center at RMIT University in Australia. “Many are easy targets for the military in their dormitories and being far from home.”