Union says 100 Magway and Sagaing garment workers are being laid off

Union says 100 Magway and Sagaing garment workers are being laid off

The Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) announced that more than 100 workers holding Sagaing and Magway region IDs have been threatened and fired from a Chinese-owned garment factory that produces for H&M. 

According to the announcement issued on Aug. 18, Zhejiang Tongli Clothing (Myanmar) Co., Ltd, located in Hlaing Thar Yar’s Shwe Lin Ban Industrial Zone in Yangon., laid off over 100 workers from the region since Aug. 1. 

“Managers and supervisors had a meeting at the end of July. After the meeting, supervisors identified 5 and 8 ID holders [those from Sagaing and Magway]. Later, they said they had to fire us because of orders from upper management,” said a Sagaing native and former tailor at assembly line B-5 in Tongli garment factory. “They said we have to resign, otherwise they will hand us over to the military. So, I left my job on Aug. 1.”

The announcement also included comments from other workers who were kicked out. They were threatened to be dismissed without compensation. According to the workers, those still employed at the factory have been warned not to get involved in the matter. 

More than 2,500 workers on 70 assembly lines are operating the factory. Workers have requested help from FGWM and H&M to obtain justice. 

Sagaing and Magway are strongholds for PDFs and clashes have intensified in the regions as the military has threatened and arrested locals.

FGWM documented 104 labor violations to 60,800 garment workers in Burmese garment factories by obtaining information from the organization’s partners. 

The report included data from 32 of the 7o garment factories producing for international brands such as Adidas, Inditex (Zara and Bershka), Fast Retaining (Uniqlo), Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), and Primark. 

Before the coup, there were around 700,000 workers in Burma’s garment industry; most were young women who supported their families in rural areas. 

Just half a year after the coup, more than 250,000 jobs in the industry were lost and more than half of the workers still in factories have had their hours cut, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).