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YANGON – A worker rights initiative in Myanmar, backed by H&M, Inditex, Bestseller New Look, Next, and Tchibo, has reached a major milestone after garment factories agreed on new freedom of association rules. The agreement follows eight months of negotiations between factory owners, unions and retail brand members of Industriall’s Action Collaboration Transformation (ACT) initiative.

All have now agreed on the implementation of the Myanmar FoA Guideline which aim to secure constructive relations between employers and workers. The guideline aims to 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. Unions 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.”

Christina Clausen, IndustriALL textile and garment director, said: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.”

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