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15 Mar 2021

Myanmar: Garment workers allegedly locked in factory to prevent participation in pro-democracy protests; incl company response

Garment workers at GY Sen factory in Myanmar have alleged that supervisors sought to prevent workers from missing work and participating in the pro-democracy protests in Yangon on 18 February 2021 and locked up to 1,000 workers inside the factory for hours. Workers allege that 20 employees were subsequently dismissed for missing shifts to join the anti-coup protests. According to workers even before the attempted coup, they were routinely put under pressure to complete excessive workloads and threatened with dismissal if they refused extra shifts. According to public reports, Primark is a buyer at GY Sen factory.

On 1 February 2021, the military of Myanmar overthrew the country's democratic government, detaining the leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, including its leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, along with cabinet ministers, the chief ministers of several regions, opposition politicians, writers, and activists. Labour groups and trade unions have called on companies sourcing from the country to denounce the attempted coup and protect workers in their supply chains.

In March 2021, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Primark to respond to these allegations regarding its supply chain. Primark’s response is included below.