THURSDAY 11 JANUARY 2024
After almost three years of military rule in Myanmar, IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe reiterate their call for the European Union (EU) to withdraw support for the Multistakeholder Alliance for Decent Employment in the Myanmar Apparel Industry (MADE in Myanmar) project and the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade agreement. The presence of EU brands in Myanmar provides vital foreign exchange which sustains the military regime and facilitates the purchase of arms, ammunition, and fuel.
The EU has stated that it fully supports the work of the ILO Commission of Inquiry into Freedom of Association in Myanmar. It has called on the State Administrative Council (SAC) of the military junta to fully co-operate with the inquiry and to ensure that workers’ and employers’ organizations can exercise their rights in an environment of freedom and security, free from violence, illogical arrest, and detention. But with MADE and EBA the EU is doing the opposite.
ILO’s report, released last year, found huge violations of freedom of association, and forced labour Conventions and urges the military authorities to cease violence and repression against trade unionists. The report also found that the SAC did not ensure that workers are able to exercise their rights in freedom and security. The findings detail: violence against unionists, issuing of arrest warrants and the cancellation of passports, forced labour, the use of human shields, forced recruitment to the military and the imposition of martial law.
In a letter to the European Commission, IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll Europe are clear that in this context it is impossible for MADE in Myanmar to fulfil its stated aim for improving labour conditions and workers’ rights. Without freedom of association and expression, the heightened human rights due diligence required by the EU is not possible.
IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie says:
“The continued support for these policies provides a vital lifeline for the miliary allowing them to maintain power. The sooner its support is cut, the sooner the regime can be replaced by the legitimate body the National Unity Government (NUG).”
Both organisations urge the EU to reconsider their policy.
Judith Kirton-Darling, Acting Joint General Secretary of industriAll Europe says:
“MADE in Myanmar and EBA must be stopped! We call on the EU to work towards implementing the ILO recommendations in a democratic Myanmar as outlined by the tripartite structure.”
More and more EU brands have reached this conclusion and have committed to a responsible exit from Myanmar. Last August H&M, the world’s second biggest retailer, announced that it has decided to gradually stop sourcing from Myanmar, as reports of labour abuses in garment factories in the country increase. The most recent brand to announce their exit is German retailer Lidl.
Joint letter from IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union: EN