Union Garment Workers Fear ‘an Opportunity to Get Rid of Us’

From Bangladesh to Cambodia, basic labor rights are unraveling for some as the industry grapples with the coronavirus fallout.

Myan Mode, a garment factory on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, produces men’s jackets, women’s blazers and coats for Western fashion companies like Mango and Zara. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it has seen a decrease in orders from international retailers.

That was why it let go almost half of its 1,274 workers in late March, the factory’s managing director said in response to protesters who arrived at the factory’s doors to denounce the dismissals.

Three fired sewing operators, however, said the factory was taking an opportunity to punish workers engaged in union activity. In an interview, the operators — Maung Moe, Ye Yint and Ohnmar Myint — said that of the 571 who had been dismissed, 520 had belonged to the factory’s union, one of 20 that make up the Federation of Garment Workers Myanmar. About 700 workers who did not belong to the union kept their jobs, they said.

In full: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/08/fashion/coronavirus-garment-workers-asia-unions.html

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