MILAN — Italian apparel and retail chain OVS is the latest business to sign the statement of solidarity issued by nonprofit Clean Clothes Campaign in support of Myanmar workers.
“Given the small number of operating productions [in the country], OVS could easily leave the country; however, it will maintain its limited presence in Myanmar, discontinuing business with those suppliers that could engage in discriminatory behaviors against protesting workers,” OVS said in a statement Monday.
Less than 2 percent of OVS’ global suppliers are based in the country, which is grappling with the military coup that overturned the fragile democratic government helmed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Clean Clothes Campaign’s call to action issued earlier this month urged apparel brands and manufacturers to stand by workers in the country, show solidarity with protesters and publicly condemn the military coup and call for the restoration of democracy.
“The people of Myanmar have been bravely taking to the street in rallies, strikes and noisy protests to show their resistance to the military takeover. Workers across economic sectors, including many garment workers, are joining the protests and the Civil Disobedience Movement, exercising their fundamental rights to go on strike and demonstrate,” reads the Clean Clothes Campaign’s statement.
In particular, the Amsterdam-based organization urged brands and manufacturers to actively ensure their businesses are not contributing to or aggravating human rights violations in the country and are not linked with the military junta.
The statement goes on to ask signatories to protect and support the labor rights movement, including trade unions and labor organizations, by ensuring that no protesting worker faces disciplinary measures for going on strike or joining protests, and that no absence related to the current climate in Myanmar is punished, granting to both groups “job security and wage payments.”
As reported, garment workers in Myanmar are leading the charge in the pro-democracy protests, and seeking a helping hand from international fashion brands. Female protesters in Myanmar carried signage calling out for help from brands like H&M, Inditex (Zara’s owner) and Bestseller — some of the companies that are part of the $4.59 billion attributed to garment exports in the country, as per the European Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar.
As reported, last week Benetton halted shipments to Myanmar until peace is restored. Meanwhile, H&M, which has around 45 direct suppliers in Myanmar, has paused shipments in the country and is one of 17 trade unions and NGOs, including Labour Behind the Label and Fashion Roundtable, which have condemned the military coup.