Photo: Lauren Decicca | Makmende

The US-based Solidarity Center The Solidarity Center is a U.S.-registered non-profit organization affiliated with the American Federation of Labor–Congress of Industrialized Organizations (AFL-CIO), which is the largest trade union federation in the United States representing 13 million workers. has analysed the way in which trade unions in garment factories in Myanmar are systematically hampered in their work.

In this analysis, the Solidarity Center descibes how new trade unions at garment factories in Myanmar are regularly busted by the management of those factories. The Solidarity Center highlights the important role that labour rights organisations in Myanmar play in supporting these factory unions.

Since 2015, SOMO has conducted research into working conditions in the export-oriented garment industry in Myanmar. SOMO research reveals how the rights of workers in the garment industry, often young women, are systematically violated, resulting in extremely low wages, long working hours, discrimination and intimidation in the workplace. Trade unions provide an indispensable counterweight to the power of factory owners and their foreign clients.

In collaboration with a labour rights organisation from Myanmar (that for security reasons must remain anonymous) and the Clean Clothes Campaign Netherlands, SOMO submitted a complaint against garment retailer C&A to the complaints committee of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textiles in July 2020. SOMO, the labour rights organisation from Myanmar and CCC accuse C&A of negligence in protecting the trade union set up by garment factory workers in June 2018.