Global deal on abandoned clothing factory in protest against Burmese junta

H&M appears to have returned to Myanmar under military control for supplies.

Through The Irrawaddy December 21, 2021

Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT), an agreement between 20 global brands, including Sweden’s H&M, Spain’s Inditex and Britain’s Primark, and IndustriALL Global Union (IGU) in search of decent wages for workers in supply chains from clothing, ceased operations in Burma.

The UGI represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors, campaigning for solidarity, better working conditions and trade union rights.

On December 15, ACT said the move was a consequence of the withdrawal of the national union affiliated with IGU, the Myanmar Industry Workers’ Federation, from ACT operations because it is no longer able to operate freely.

The decision was difficult as Myanmar has been a priority country for ACT since 2018, according to the announcement. ACT said it would reassess if the situation in Myanmar changes.

An employee at the Shwepyithar Industrial Zone in Yangon told The Irrawaddy, “Our garment factory went out of business this month. We were fully compensated. The factory produces coats of foreign brands. Management said it was because there were no new orders.

One clothing maker, however, said the industry was operating normally and orders were stable.

H&M, Zara of fashion group Inditex and Primark are supplied from factories in Myanmar, creating tens of thousands of jobs.

H&M suspended orders from around 40 suppliers in Myanmar following the military coup in February to place new orders in May.

Last year, there were around 600 factories in Myanmar, providing around 450,000 jobs, according to the Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association.

Companies from Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, United States, Germany, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Norway and France ceased or suspended operations within 10 months that followed the coup.

Among them are Australian resource giant Woodside, Taiwan’s KOI Bubble Tea Shop, US pretzel retailer Auntie Anne’s, Japanese tire producer Bridgestone, German food giant Metro, and Malaysian oil and gas company Petronas, Japanese retailer. AEON, Thailand’s largest industrial zone developer Amata Corporation, French company multinational electric utility company EDF, Hong Kong and Shanghai hotels, British energy and urban development company Sembcorp and British America Tobacco and Japanese automaker Toyota, according to the Institute for Strategy and Policy in Myanmar.

Norwegian telecommunications operator Telenor and Australian Myanmar Metals Limited have sold their businesses, and Japanese beverage giant Kirin Holdings and Singapore’s Virginia Tobacco Company Limited have ended their partnerships with military conglomerate Myanma Economic Holdings Ltd.

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