Workers’ Rights Continuously Violated in Myanmar

Workers’ Rights Continuously Violated in Myanmar
Leather footwear lot, Dmitrij Paskevic via Unsplash, 2018

Aysu Amaha Öztürk

Myanmar and Human Rights Researcher 

Global Human Rights Defence

Myanmar Witness has reported that strikes in Myanmar are increasing due to the many human rights related problems that the workers are facing (‘Garment workers sacked’, 2022). Workers have stated that they can no longer survive with the current wages, especially because living expenses have rocketed since the coup. Myanmar Witness also highlighted the case of Myanmar Pou Chen Co Ltd, a shoe manufacturing company that is one of the largest in the world. This firm has reportedly fired workers due to their unexplained leave of absence. However, the workers had held a strike demanding higher wages just days before, which can be perceived as the real reason for their dismissal. 

Moreover, the coup has interfered with the possibility of workers mobilizing by outlawing unions; it is suspected that this is connected to the fact that workers and labour unions protested against the coup from the very beginning  (‘Garment workers sacked’, 2022). This means that workers have no support from an organized institution and therefore have to jeopardize their position to ask for their rights or have to collaborate with the junta regime. 

It can be understood that the rights and lives of workers are continuously threatened by the current system and regime in Myanmar. Whilst workers are not given enough wages, they are also stopped from joining unions and trying to find systematic solutions. Myanmar ratified the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in 2017 (Ratification Status for Myanmar). Article 8 of the CESCR requires that all state parties are to ensure that their citizens can form and join trade unions for the promotion and protection of their economic and social interests. Article 11 requires state parties to recognize the right of everyone to have an adequate standard of living including adequate food, clothing and housing. Myanmar is actively violating these rights by not providing adequate livelihood opportunities or eliminating labour unions.

Sources and further reading:

‘Garment workers sacked for demanding long overdue wage rise.’ (2022, December 21). Frontier Myanmar.

Ratification Status for Myanmar. United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database.