H&M, Inditex and Next are among the global brands that have backed an initiative to protect garment workers and factories in Myanmar from the economic impact linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
The parties have committed to cooperate in good faith to secure the workplace health and safety of garment and footwear workers in Myanmar through a framework for action signed in collaboration with Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM), an affiliate of the IndustriAll global union, and employers and Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT) brands producing in the country.
The initiative will see as many as 100,000 garment workers benefit from the measures agreed, which include engaging with relevant organisations to mobilise resources for covering salary loss of workers in the industry from April to July, in coordination with the global action to support the garment industry, and supporting International Labour Organization (ILO) research to calculate the necessary funding for salary losses.
The parties further agree to support the development of social protection floors, to extend social protection for workers and employers in the garment industry in Myanmar and to promote compliance with health and safety regulations.
An important feature of the agreement is to require compliance with the Myanmar Freedom of Association Guideline in Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT) supplier factories and promote compliance in the entire industry.
The agreed statement outlines specific commitments for unions, employers and brands.
Trade unions commit to promoting safe and healthy workplaces. This includes raising awareness among workers to follow the infection protection measures.
Employers similarly commit to promoting safe and healthy workplaces based on the Covid-19 related regulations and guidance set by the Myanmar government, including actively engaging in dialogue and informing and consulting on the company’s business strategy in response to the pandemic and on possible joint measures to mitigate the crisis.
The global brands that have endorsed the statement so far, H&M, Inditex, Next, Tchibo and Bestseller, commit to paying manufacturers for finished goods and goods in production and maintaining quick and effective open lines of communication with supply chain partners about the status of business operations and future planning.
“The Myanmar FOA Guideline has laid the foundations of cooperation in the country’s garment industry and has enabled the parties to reach agreement on how they will respond collectively to the Covid crisis,” says IndustriAll assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft.
“This agreement is a concrete framework for further joint action to address the impacts of the next phase on factories and workers. We call upon all employers and brands sourcing in Myanmar to endorse it.”