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ACT brand suppliers and IndustriALL affiliated sectoral union agree on Freedom of Association Guideline in Myanmar


Factories producing for ACT brands in Myanmar have agreed on a Myanmar Freedom of Association (FOA) Guideline with the Industrial Workers’ Federation of Myanmar (IWFM), the sectoral trade union federation in Myanmar affiliated to ACT member IndustriALL Global Union.

“Throughout the negotiation meetings we have been able to build trust and understanding between each other. The Guideline is a framework that every factory can use to have a clear and predictable way of engaging with trade unions. This can help to stabilize the business”

Paul Zhubo, Spokesperson of the Employer Working

The FOA Guideline has been concluded on 13 November 2019 after 8 months of negotiations between IWFM and delegates of an Employer Working Group formed by factories producing for ACT brands in Myanmar. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has provided technical assistance to the parties to ensure full alignment with International Labour Standards.

The Myanmar FOA Guideline aims at helping to secure constructive relations between employers and workers. By enabling voice and representation of workers it facilitates cooperation to solve workplace issues.

It also aims to specify and ensure the practical application of the principles of Freedom of Association under International Labour Standards.

This can help to position Myanmar as a world-class responsible production location and contribute to the development of good industrial relations.

The Myanmar FOA Guideline covers the following areas:

  • Preamble
  • Section 1. Right to Freedom of Association
  • Section 2. Process for joint meetings between management and trade unions
  • Section 3. Release and facilities for trade union activities
  • Section 4. Dismissal procedure
  • Section 5. Collective bargaining mechanism and negotiation process
  • Section 6. Strikes, lock-out and picketing
  • Section 7. Standards of conduct for management and trade unions
  • Section 8: Support to factory business activities
  • Section 9: Dispute resolution procedure
  • Section 10: Implementation and Monitoring
  • Glossary

Download the full Myanmar Freedom of Association (FOA) Guideline.

The parties have agreed on the next steps in the process including:

  • An information meeting about the FOA Guideline for ACT member brands’ suppliers latest by end of February 2020;
  • Disseminating and explaining the content of the FOA Guideline to the workers and management at factory level and to other relevant actors;
  • Reviewing the implementation of the FOA Guideline annually;
  • Developing a dispute resolution procedure to address any conflicts that may arise in the implementation of this Guideline by 31 March 2020;
  • Developing the collective bargaining mechanism and negotiating process as final section of the guideline starting in June 2020 with the aim to conclude the negotiations no later than December 2020.

“For H&M Group, the Freedom of Association Guideline is a key tool to achieve more stable industrial relations in Myanmar. It can help to maintain and increase factory efficiency while at the same time ensuring the implementation of one of the most basic human rights: freedom of association”

Rohini Kale, Sustainability Manager, New Look

“We believe that communication is key to improving worker welfare which is why, together with our suppliers in Myanmar, we are continually working towards improved social dialogue. Our suppliers in Myanmar have worked with the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) to create a new FOA Guideline, and we look forward to supporting them through its implementation”

Frank Hoffer, Executive Director of ACT