H&M investigates labour exploitation in Myanmar garment factories  

UK human rights group monitored labour conditions in Myanmar's garment factories, noting 156 cases of mistreatment 

Image Credit - Namshaoxc ywo

H&M is looking into 20 cases of labour exploitation in the garment factories of Myanmar from where the fashion retailer’s supplies come, as informed to Reuters. This investigation comes close on the heels of Inditex, the parent company of Zara and a notable competitor, publicly announcing its gradual discontinuation of goods sourcing from Myanmar. 

During the period February 2022 to February 2023, a British human rights advocacy group kept a close watch on the treatment of workers within Myanmar’s garment factories, following reporting of 156 instances of ill treatment. This number has risen from 56 cases in the preceding year, highlighting a decline in the protection of workers’ rights following the military coup in February 2021.

The most commonly cited claims as per the forthcoming report by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) —a non-governmental organisation (NGO) — which is to be released Reuters on 16 August 2023, as per Reuter, pertain  to reduced wages and wage misappropriation. These allegations were followed by reports of unjust terminations, low wages and compulsory overtime. 

The local teams of H&M are looking into the allegations outlined in the BHRRC report  and the company is reportedly taking necessary actions to resolve the issues. The company is also closely collaborating with all concerned stakeholders to address the matter appropriately.

With military rule in Myanmar leading to political and humanitarian challenges, the BHRRC has been meticulously monitoring accusations of labour rights violations within garment factories. This BHRRC monitoring has discovered instances of abuse documented across 124 garment units.

The BHRRC sources its data and tracks cases with the help of global media outlets, local platforms such as Myanmar Labour News, and even union leaders, to monitor reported instances of potential misconduct. These reports are validated and cross-checked by BJRRC by speaking to workers employed by various brands.  

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