In an update yesterday (11 October) M&S said it is proving impossible for its Global Sourcing Principles to be upheld in Myanmar.

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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Marks & Spencer (M&S) has 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.

“We do not tolerate any human rights abuses within any part of our supply chain and are now working towards a responsible exit from Myanmar, in line with our Responsible Exit Policy, which will see a full exit by March 2023.”

“Marks and Spencer (M&S) will continue to work closely with relevant stakeholders over the next six months, including the Ethical Trading Initiative throughout the consultation process to ensure that their suppliers adhere to national laws and human rights are upheld.”

The brand also said it is looking at what additional measures can be put in place over the next six months to mitigate the effects of the decision on the individual workers in Myanmar.