BRANDS' COLLECTIVE EFFORT BOOSTS WORKERS' RIGHTS IN MYANMAR
BESTSELLER is playing a central role in protecting the rights of supply chain workers in Myanmar’s garment and footwear industry by working with suppliers, trade unions and other international brands to promote freedom of association.
Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, an increased risk of Freedom of Association violations has been observed in the global garment and footwear supply chain.
Under the umbrella of Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT), BESTSELLER and other global brands have sent a clear message that violating workers’ rights is unacceptable.
With the support of ACT, employer representatives and unions established the Myanmar Guideline on Freedom of Association (FOA) last year. The guideline aims to secure constructive industrial relations between employers and workers. By providing an agreed framework and aligned understanding of FOA, the guideline facilitates cooperation to solve workplace issues and helps employers and unions to build stronger industrial relations and more stable supply chains.
Under the FOA guideline, an associated dispute resolution mechanism has been agreed between suppliers producing for ACT brands and the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM). With the support of brands and IndustriALL Global Union, the parties have agreed to jointly monitor the supply chain and – in the case of violations – discuss how to resolve disputes in an amicable, constructive and sustainable way.
“We truly believe that increased social dialogue in factories and enabling effective freedom of association is the most sustainable way to deal with conflicting interests and to achieve mutual respect and joint responsibility. We will continue our joint efforts among ACT signatories to work closely with all stakeholders to establish higher industrial relations standards in Myanmar,” says Andrei Vasiliev, BESTSELLER’s Social Impact Manager.
The collective effort of ACT has led to a number of successful negotiations between Myanmar-based suppliers and local trade unions. When suppliers, brands and trade unions engage together to find solutions to correct labour rights’ violations, constructive industrial relations develop.
For example, the factory management of Futeli Garment (Myanmar) recently reached a negotiated settlement with the Industrial Workers’ Federation of Myanmar (IWFM).
“This is a good example of how unions are working with brands to develop supply chain industrial relations as an alternative to the corporate-led audit and code of conduct programmes that other brands are using instead of directly engaging with unions,” says IndustriALL textile director Christina Hajagos-Clausen.
BESTSELLER will continue to support our suppliers and unions in developing more efficient industrial relations and closely monitor the freedom of association in our supply chain.