Peaceful protests have been
One such protest took place on March 14. That day, as
Ko Aung also shared the following statement: “We sew for Mango, Zara, Primark. Mostly European brands. There has been a lot of union solidarity. Military has been shooting us with live ammunition. This has had a big impact on the factory zones, with many factories shutting down. Safety to get to work has been a big concern. We want international brands to push suppliers to stand with workers. Many workers have fled to rural areas. For workers who have fled to rural areas without pay there are concerns of hunger.”
Andrew Tillett-Saks of
Kha Kha of
By not helping at all, these brands are making a terrible situation even worse for the garment workers — without financial support, they are essentially being asked to weigh up between two somber realities: potentially getting killed by the military on their daily commute, or fleeing and risking homelessness, starvation, and more.
“During Covid and the economic slowdown, fashion’s most essential workers have been dealing with the worst humanitarian crisis of our lifetime,” says Barenblat. “This includes reduction in wages and an increase in gender-based violence. With a rise of authoritarianism and dictatorships around the world, we are seeing a rollback on garment worker rights and the very safety of workers erode globally.”
The unions and garment workers are demanding that the brands they work for, such as those listed above, provide meaningful, financial support. So far, they have received nothing. Barenblat adds: “Brand response to the growing crisis in Myanmar has been at best boilerplate, at worst silence.”
Remake shared a list of demands from Union Leaders and Worker Rights representatives, which brands, governments, and citizens can reference when looking for ways to help in a meaningful way. Find the advice quoted verbatim below.
1. Brands must urge their suppliers to support workers’ rights to protest and participate in the civil disobedience movement against the military coup. This includes specifically ensuring that workers can take leave for as long as they need (for safety or protest reasons) without dismissal.
2. Brands must halt orders from factories that support the military regime.
3. Brands must ensure that worker wages and severance are paid through the crisis. Many workers who are yet to be paid have fled to rural areas and are in need of food.
Unions are demanding that foreign governments impose comprehensive economic sanctions to pressure the military and to support workers fighting for democracy.
Workers in Myanmar are currently owed back wages, with some factories having shut down. They need money to keep protesting.
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