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17 Mar 2021

John Reed, Patricia Nilsson & Katrina Manson, Financial Times

Myanmar: Protests paralyse economy as businesses reckon with impact

A civil disobedience movement resisting Myanmar’s military regime has paralysed the economy as workers strike, businesses withhold taxes and the ousted government asks foreign investors to shun the junta.

The movement has won mass support from tens of thousands of government and private sector employees... However, the growing chaos has alarmed businesspeople, most of whom support their employees’ right to protest. Privately, though, they warned that the turmoil threatened to wipe out a decade of economic gains.

... The supply chain in garments, a sector that employs 500,000 people, mostly women, is breaking down as foreign companies suspend orders.

... Thulsi Narayanasamy, senior labour rights lead at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, said local trade unions were united in support of sanctions to help restore democracy. “They are already risking lives and jobs to protest so want to go all the way,” she said... “Brands need to use the enormous leverage they have now to support workers who are protesting at enormous personal risk to themselves."