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4 Jul 2023

Simon Glover, EcoTextile

Myanmar: JAKO announces exit after military arrests garment workers

See all tags Allegations

"Sportswear brand to quit Myanmar after arrests", 4 July 2023

...Jako has announced plans to withdraw from sourcing in Myanmar following the arrest by the military junta of two garment workers at one of its suppliers.

Heiko Rumm, head of purchasing at Jako, told Ecotextile News it had been a difficult decision because of the economic implications for the workers at the Sun Apparel factory in Yangon.

"We have consistently held a critical view of the situation, condemning any form of military violence and oppression. Despite these challenges, we have remained committed to supporting the workers and maintaining our long-term relationships with our partners," he said.

"However, given the deteriorating conditions and the ongoing crisis, we have made the strategic decision to reduce our business in Myanmar for 2023 and ultimately phase out our operations in the country. Our goal is to transition responsibly while ensuring the welfare of the workers and mitigating any negative impact."

Workers' leader Ma Thidar Win was arrested a day before a scheduled meeting with Sun Apparel factory bosses to discuss demands for a pay rise and co-worker Ko Hlaing Min Htet was arrested at the factory by soldiers the following day.

Rumm said that Jako had been working with the factory owner, as well as three NGOs operating in Myanmar, in an attempt to secure their release.

"The owner of the factory has demonstrated a willingness to resolve the issues raised by the workers. During the strike, he has agreed to increase wages and has prepared an official letter urging the immediate release of the arrested individuals," he added.

"Additionally, he will provide financial support to the family members who depend on the salaries of the arrested workers, ensuring their well-being and assistance during this challenging time.

"Furthermore, the owner has expressed his readiness to provide a deposit if it facilitates a positive resolution with the authorities responsible for the arrests. We are actively engaged in pursuing all available avenues to secure the release of these individuals."...