Myanmar: Labour activists charged for role in garment factory strike over working conditions; Includes intl. brand responses
In September 2019, police brought charges against a civil society leader and seven labour leaders for their role in a strike over alleged labour rights abuses at Myanmar Knitting Factory in Pathein Industrial Zone, Myanmar. According to workers, Myanmar Knitting produces for international brands including C&A, Inditex and Holly & Whyte (Lindex).
The eight labour activists facing charges for their role in the garment factory strike
Over 1,000 workers are reported to have taken part in the strike, whose 45 demands included concerns over health and safety, wages and benefits, and excessive working hours. The strike ended after all demands were agreed, following negotiations between worker representatives and factory management.
However, charges remain against the eight labour activists under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, which rights groups say restricts the right to peaceful assembly and violates international standards. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma has recognised the charges against the eight activists as politically motivated and has included them in its 'Awaiting Trial' list.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited C&A, Inditex and Lindex to respond to the charges against the eight labour activists following the strike over working conditions at Myanmar Knitting. The brands all responded and confirmed the dispute over working conditions has been resolved. Only C&A addressed the charges against the labour leaders, who said that while it cannot publicly comment on an ongoing case between a state authority in a producing country and its citizens, it is closely monitoring the situation and hopes it will be resolved soon. The full responses are included below.
This is a developing story and we will continue to monitor the situation and update as we receive further information.