Myanmar Union Federations Call for International Support Against Coup

Members of the Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) lining up as part of the anti-coup protests on March 2, 2021. Photo: FGWM.

As the Burmese military coup leaders escalated repression against the democracy uprising in the country this week, two Burmese union federations this week called for international pressure on their government. The Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) is asking for international sanctions against the regime. The Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM) is asking for international apparel companies to use their leverage over Burmese suppliers to protect garment workers from being dismissed for taking part in the democracy movement. Below are the two statements. For more information on the coup and its aftermath, see the piece we ran last week, "Myanmar Workers and Unions on the Front Lines in Fight Against Coup."

The Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) calls for comprehensive sanctions

March 6, 2021
Read the original statement. -Eds

  1. Kyae Zin (F), 19 years, Mandalay University, Mandalay
  2. Nyein Thu Aung (M), 19 years, Magwe Institute of Technology, Magwe region
  3. Arkar Moe (M), 25 years, N. Okkalapa, Yangon
  4. Nay Myo Aung, (M), 16 years, Mandalay regional
  5. Min Khant Kyaw (M), 17 years, Sagaing region
  6. Htet Wai Htoo (M), 17 years, Mon state

These are some of the future of Burma shot by Min Aung Hlaing’s military in the cities of Burma. More than 50 have been accounted for. Some were lucky to have funerals by their families while many have disappeared.

The people’s movement against the military regime that staged a coup has continued all over Burma for over a month and is still continuing.

More walks of life are participating and all sectors of work are participating.

The following are some areas where our members have successfully demonstrated that a soldier or a military officer cannot run each and all technical issues.

  • As of this morning, all spheres of energy extraction are stopped. The Thanpayakan refinery has been stopped—the military took away three weeks’ supply of processed fuel (some two weeks ago)—and no reserve left.
  • The Nyaungdone gas production that gets about 270 million kays per day is shut down.
  • The Ayadaw gas production that feeds the gas to run the turbines of the military-owned factories in WAZI township, Magwe region, are stopped, and none of the factories are operating. That is why they can’t print the bank notes and bullets and so are buying the bullets and the bank notes are printed—with Chinese words on the paper packing.
  • No trains are running.
  • Of all the CDM activities, the Foreign Affairs Office personal CDM led by UN Permanent Representative U Kyaw Myo Tun—from the UN Permanent Representative office—5 persons in Washington D.C., 4 persons in Geneva, 1 person in Berlin, have rocked the regime.
  • The U.S. government has blocked $1 billion by U.S. Executive Order 14014.
  • The American Chamber, the Euro Chamber, the Italy Myanmar Business association, the French Chamber of Commerce, and the British Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar have declared they will not meet with the regime.
  • The World Bank has informed the regime that all drawdowns are suspended at the moment
  • The Karen National Union/Kachin Independence Army have announced that the coup is not acceptable and that it takes away the credibility of the peace process.
  • Shooting with machine guns/using snipers/using planes are their last resort.

What we request now is a harsh comprehensive sanction that can finish off the regime and its structure.

It will hurt everybody. More the grassroots, the daily income people. And these are the people who die now for want of change. After suffering abuse of the eco-social system by the military over five decades, now facing death from bullets shot by our own military in our own homes, without external invasion, and we now call for clear-cut international sanctions on the country.

We will suffer another five years to be rid of these military thugs and their “we hold weapons, we can do whatever, whenever we want” insolence, their doctrine, and practice.



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And that is the only way, to rebuild Burma from scratch—without any interference from the military.

Maung Maung, President, CTUM

Federation of General Workers Myanmar

Statement Regarding Global Apparel Brands
March 4, 2021

The members of the FGWM make the clothing of most of the global apparel brands who operate in Mynamar. We have worked dutifully over the years in Myanmar factories to make the brands’ clothing and to help the brands build their successful businesses. Now in our time of greatest need, we call on the brands to support us in defense of our fundamental rights and futures.

The military coup in Myanmar and the military’s violent repression of protesters has been universally condemned as a gross violation of democracy and human rights. The FGWM has led the Myanmar people’s struggle to defend our democracy and our rights, participating extensively in the Civil Disobedience Movement. However, many employers are actively interfering with our fundamental rights to political expression, intimidating, threatening, and even dismissing workers for joining the pro-democracy demonstrations (not to mention actively propping up a military dictatorship).

We know from extensive experience that apparel brands have very significant leverage over the behavior of their suppliers. Therefore, we call on all apparel brands using Myanmar suppliers to immediately issue a public statement demanding that no workers in Myanmar factories are to be dismissed, disciplined, or discouraged in any way from participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement.

We believe that given the current political situation in Myanmar, and given the brands’ publicity around “Corporate Social Responsibility,” this defense of our basic right to political expression is the least global apparel brands can do. We also believe that refusing to do so will equate with being silent against the crimes of the Myanmar military junta. The ACT statement issued by brands does not in any way explicitly demand that no workers be dismissed for participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement. We call on your explicit public statements and actions to ensure any employer resistance to workers’ participation in the Civil Disobedience Movement ceases immediately.

-Federation of General Workers Myanmar (FGWM)


The Industrial Workers’ Federation of Myanmar is demanding that brands and suppliers publicly denounce the coup and agree that no workers making their clothes will be disciplined or dismissed for participating in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Below is a list of brands with business in Myanmar:

  • Adidas (Germany)
  • Aldi Nord (Germany)
  • Benetton (Italy)
  • Bestseller (Denmark)
  • C&A (Netherlands/Germany)
  • Calvin Klein (U.S.)
  • Columbia Sportswear (U.S.)
  • Cotton On Group (Australia)
  • David’s Bridal (U.S.)
  • Eddie Bauer (U.S.)
  • Fruit of the Loom (U.S.)
  • Gap (U.S.)
  • H&M (Sweden)
  • Hunkemoller (Netherlands)
  • Inditex (Spain)
  • Itochu (Japan)
  • JCPenney (U.S.)
  • Justin Alexander (U.S.)
  • Kappahl (Sweden)
  • Le Coq Sportif (France)
  • Lidl (Germany)
  • Lindex (Sweden)
  • Mango (Spain)
  • Marks & Spencer (U.K.)
  • Matalan (U.K.)
  • Mizuno (Japan)
  • Muji (Japan)
  • New Look (U.K.)
  • Next (U.K.)
  • OVS (Italy)
  • Primark (U.K.)
  • Sportira 1998 (Canada)
  • Tally Weijl (Switzerland)
  • Tchibo (Germany)
  • Tesco (U.K.)
  • VF (North Face) (U.S.)
  • Wilson Sporting Goods (U.S.)