UNI Global Union is calling for garment and textile brands to pull manufacturing operations from Myanmar, a murderous military dictatorship where basic human rights are trampled – including the right to join a union. 

The position was taken during UNI’s Management Committee meeting on 4 May, and it is in line with calls from the Confederation of Trade Unions, Myanmar (CTUM) and our sister global union IndustriALL.  

In an article this week, representatives from IF Metall along with Swedish UNI affiliates Unionen and Handels called on H&M, the Swedish fast fashion giant, to divest from the Southeast Asian nation. 

They wrote:  

The fashion industry is a significant source of foreign currency for Myanmar’s military regime and is used to buy weapons, energy and other goods. This means that the industry contributes to maintaining the regime, which, among other things, controls the central bank. Companies that continue to operate in Myanmar thus become indirect support for the military dictatorship.” 

The Myanmar ministry of information reports that garment exports were worth US$4.7 billion last year. 

IndustriALL notes that global brands such as Inditex, Fast Retail, Tchibo, Primark and Marks & Spencer left or announced plans to leave Myanmar after the Ethical Trading Initiative, of which H&M is a member, released a report last year saying that due diligence is not possible in a context where independent worker voices are suppressed, where unions are banned, and trade unionists are imprisoned and killed.  

UNI has previously pressed banks to divest from shareholdings in companies linked to the military junta in Myanmar. It will begin reaching out to affiliates – particularly in the commerce sector – about this new call to action. 

“Since the coup two years ago, the military junta has committed atrocity after atrocity. Doing business in the country props up this brutal, barbaric regime, and fashion retailers cannot consider themselves ‘responsible’ or ‘sustainable’ businesses while manufacturing in the country,” said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI

Additional action: Donate to the ITUC’s campaign to defend democracy in Myanmar. 



Business and Human Rights

UNI Asia & Pacific