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November 7, 2022

Adidas launches probe into Myanmar supplier after mass worker dismissals

Adidas says it is investigating one of its supplier factories in Myanmar which is alleged to have sacked trade union members striking over pay and conditions.

By Hannah Abdulla

Reports have surfaced that allege workers at the Myanmar Pouchen factory in Yangon, which produces clothing for Adidas, had been striking over working conditions and pay.

Myanmar Now said that rising commodity prices had led to 400 workers at the factory striking after a request for a pay increase from MMK4,800 per day ($2.30) resulted in them being given MMK10,000 in gift cards. This amounts to less than $4.75.

The Pou Chen factory employs 7,800 workers. 29 workers were reportedly dismissed following the strike.

Myanmar Now reports officials from Myanmar Pou Chen notified the local military authorities of the protest on the afternoon of the same day it began, prompting the arrival of ten soldiers and police officers in four army vehicles.

In an email to Just Style, a spokesperson for Adidas, commented regarding the reports on Myanmar Pou Chen: “Adidas has objected strongly to these dismissals, which are in breach of our Workplace Standards and our long-standing commitment to upholding workers’ freedom of association.

“We are investigating the lawfulness of the supplier’s actions and we have called on Pou Chen to immediately reinstate the dismissed workers.”

Last month, M&S announced it was working on a responsible exit from Myanmar on concerns over the continued human rights violations following a military coup.

Marks & Spencer (M&S) said in its statement: “Findings from the Myanmar Enhanced Due Diligence Sectoral Assessment demonstrate that it is impossible for the group’s Global Sourcing Principles to be upheld.

Sourcing apparel in Myanmar has proved a challenge since a military coup took place in February 2021.

In August last year, the International Labour Organisation issued a report saying the military takeover in Myanmar had taken a severe toll on trade unions and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) providing services to workers and migrants.

The report titled: Riding out the storm: Organizational resilience of trade unions and civil society organizations following the military takeover in Myanmar’ highlights how the targeted persecution of trade unions and CSOs, including arbitrary arrests, detentions, acts of violence, raids on homes and offices, seizure of equipment, threatening phone calls, interrogations and surveillance, have substantially limited their ability to operate.

Following this the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) encouraged garment brands and retailers sourcing from Myanmar to reassess their presence in the country as actioning and trusting factory audits was proving difficult.

It saw Primark announce its exit from the market.

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