IndustriAll said that H&M’s responsible business practices have cemented a constructive relationship with the global union but despite this, the Swedish fashion group “refuses to stop sourcing from Myanmar, a military dictatorship.”

The global union explained that the Myanmar Labor Alliance, which represents most of the trade union movement in Myanmar, has called on companies to divest.

IndustriAll added: “Myanmar is a military dictatorship with no freedom of association. The Myanmar Ministry of Information reports that garment exports were worth US$4.7 billion last year. The military regime desperately needs foreign exchange to buy weapons, ammunition and fuel to conduct a civil war against the population. By sourcing from Myanmar, H&M maintains a flow of foreign exchange into the country, helping to sustain the regime.”

H&M responded to the claims made by IndustriAll representatives at its AGM last week, stating that it had a strong local team and was working with the EU MADE programme. This programme has been condemned by Myanmar unions as a whitewash.

The global union IndustriAll said in a press release last November that it had begun discussions with garment brands on a responsible exit from Myanmar due to the “deteriorating human rights situation and the impossibility of due diligence”.

Two years on from the military coup, IndustriAll designed a framework on what a responsible exit looked like for garment brands wishing to exit Myanmar.

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IndustriAll general secretary Atle Høie said: “We have been guided by the representatives of the affected workers, the union movement of Myanmar, to call on companies to cease their operations. This document defines a responsible exit. We call on all companies doing business in Myanmar – not just the garment industry – to use this framework to plan their exit from the country.”

As Myanmar continues on a downward spiral in the face of unprecedented political and human rights violations, a number of brands have shut operations in the country or have announced their intention to cease production.

H&M did not respond to Just Style’s request for a comment on this matter at the time of going to press.