Ever since the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021, there have been widespread protests and conflicts across the country. Our challenge, in the midst of this tension, is to handle our responsibility towards the manufacturers of our Tchibo clothing and their employees with particular care.
Our statement about the military coup in Myanmar from February 2021
The actions we are taking in Myanmar
We were able to withstand the first shock waves in February and March together with our suppliers. They took the initiative and production was relocated initially to China, as transport routes for materials and finished goods had broken down, employees were involved in the protests (or were staying at home out of fear) and some factories were facing massive security problems.
Our main aim was, and remains, to safeguard the physical and financial security of the manufacturers’ workers. We have been bringing production back to Myanmar since May, while always exercising due caution. The very situation they find themselves in means that local people need an income. As an early warning system, we ask our producers about the employment situation regularly and have put specific guidelines in place to protect employees.
Since March, as part of the ACT on Living Wages initiative, we have worked intensively with the local IWFM union to develop a range of protective measures for producers and workers:
- Framework for the responsible suspension of orders
- Fair treatment of producers in the event of delivery problems
- Framework for workers’ safety and termination of employment
- Fast-track dispute resolution mechanism for violations of workers’ rights
Further information can be found on the ACT website.
The measures apply to all ACT member companies and their suppliers in Myanmar and therefore to the majority of the textile industry there. These standards and the negotiation process with local social partners are unprecedented in the textile industry. ACT has repeatedly proved to be our most valuable platform for collaborative crisis management and social dialogue in these supply chains.
What will the future bring?
We – the same as all companies that have invested in Myanmar – are faced with the problem that the country is going to be in a state of political and economic limbo for the foreseeable future. That makes it difficult for us to plan orders and additional support measures.
A new wave of coronavirus is also looming there at the moment which could hit the country much harder than previous ones. We are therefore also striving to support the people there in any way we can.
We are working with producers who are doing their best to navigate their way successfully through the current crisis with their workers. We have made a long-term commitment through ACT to the countries we source from. We also want to honour this commitment in Myanmar, where the situation is about the survival of an entire industry and the people who make a living from it.