Garment workers, suppliers and ACT brands agree on Freedom of Association Guideline

Garment workers, suppliers and ACT brands agree on Freedom of Association Guideline

15 November, 2019After eight months of negotiations, factories producing for ACT brands in Myanmar have agreed on a Myanmar Freedom of Association (FoA) Guideline with IndustriALL affiliate Industrial Workers’ Federation of Myanmar (IWFM).

The Myanmar FoA Guideline aims to secure constructive relations between employers and workers. By providing workers a voice and representation, the guideline facilitates cooperation to solve workplace issues.

The guideline aims to specify and ensure the practical application of the principles of Freedom of Association under International Labour Standards, and also outlines a timetable to begin to the process of collective bargaining.

The FoA guideline was discussed on 15 November in Yangon, Myanmar, at a round table discussion on Freedom of Association and Social Dialogue in the textile, garment, leather and shoe sector. IWFM and IndustriALL were joined by global brands H&M, Inditex, Bestseller New Look, Next, and Tchibo.

In her opening speech, Piyamal Pichaiwongse, ILO Yangon Deputy Liaison Officer, stressed that “sound industrial relations are built on the principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining.”

Participants used the meeting to address how to make the FoA Guideline a practical tool at factory level and how to work together to raise awareness on making it part of the industry standard. An action plan on how to strengthen cooperation was agreed upon.

Christina Clausen, IndustriALL textile and garment  director says:

“The FoA guideline specifies the conditions to take the next step to develop an agreement for the sector, and it’s only by establishing sustainable structures that we can achieve a collective change in the industry. IndustriALL looks forward to working with our affiliate, the IWFM, national suppliers and the global brands to improve wages and working conditions in Myanmar.”

Twenty-one major brands have signed a global agreement with IndustriALL Global Union to form the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT).  Companies including Hennes & Mauritz AB, Zara-parent Inditex SA and the owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, PVH Corp. have signed on to use their purchasing power to enable better working conditions and push for industry level wage agreements secured through collective bargaining.

The Myanmar FoA Guideline covers:

  • Right to freedom of association
  • Process for joint meetings between management and trade unions
  • Release and facilities for trade union activities
  • Dismissal procedure
  • Collective bargaining mechanism and negotiation process
  • Strikes, lock-out and picketing
  • Standards of conduct for management and trade unions
  • Support to factory business activities
  • Dispute resolution procedure
  • Implementation and monitoring

The parties have agreed on the next steps in the process, including among other things disseminate and explain the content of the guideline to workers and management at factory level, and develop a dispute resolution procedure, as outlined in a signed letter of agreement.