Two years on from the military coup in Myanmar, the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) says the findings of its independent evidence-based assessment on the context of human rights and responsible business conduct within Myanmar in 2021 indicate the context does not allow for normal responsible business.

The report had prompted brands including Primark and Marks & Spencer to end their clothing-sourcing operations in the country.

In an update, marking two years since the start of the military coup, the ETI says: “There is a need for greater pressure from the international community to create a pathway for a return to democracy as a matter of urgency. In the meantime any company doing business in Myanmar should at the very least review their operations and relationships to ensure that they are not supporting the military and are, to the greatest extent possible, protecting workers’ rights.”

Meanwhile, a press release published initially on IndustriALL worker rights union’s website, concedes “due diligence is not possible in a country ruled by a military regime and where unions cannot operate.”

IndustriALL adds most unions in the country are banned and many workers who were once protected by collective agreements have been fired and replaced by casual workers with no rights. Currently, more than 60 trade unionists are imprisoned.

In September 2021, IndustriALL launched a disinvestment campaign, calling on all companies operating there to cease operations and place no new orders, while several brands stopped placing new orders in the country, which the body says is “some progress,” but IndustriALL general secretary, Atle Hoie notes: “The military is still unlawfully in power in Myanmar and continues to violate human and workers’ rights, so we need to keep up the pressure.”

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The global unions are calling for unequivocal recognition of the credentials of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) at international and national levels as the one and true democratic government of the Myanmar people.

“By recognising the NUG, we safeguard the human and trade union rights of Myanmar’s working people, and once and for all, put an end to the military junta’s brutal dictatorship and false representation of the country before the international community.”