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“An exemplary collaboration”: DIEH reviews ACT Myanmar FOA Guideline and DRM


The Dansk Intiativ for Etisk Handel (DIEH) recently published a report evaluating the Myanmar Guideline on Freedom of Association(FOA). The report,  Myanmar Guideline on Freedom of Association: An exemplary approach to ensure respect for workers’ rights, details the development and impact of the Guideline and the accompanying Framework Dispute Resolution Mechanism, exploring the factors that ‘instigated and enabled it’. 

The Myanmar Freedom of Association Guideline was endorsed  by ACT Members in April 2020 following a 9-months negotiation process between  an Employer Working Group of ACT brand suppliers and IndustriAL affiliate  Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM), with facilitation and technical support from the ILO. The report outlines the role that key stakeholders and individuals played in driving the process  and achieving  agreement. 

“The achievement is credited to the key actors in the process, including the president of IWFM Ma Khaing Zar Aung, the employer working group, representatives of ACT brands and the ACT secretariat.”

“The report provides inspiration for new forms of cooperation between trade unions, brands and suppliers on securing and implementing workers’ rights, and highlights crucial factors for the conclusion of the unique agreement.”

In December 2021, ACT members took the difficult decision to cease ACT’s operations in Myanmar. This is a consequence of the withdrawal of IndustriALL’s local trade union affiliate IWFM from the ACT operations, because they are no longer able to operate freely under the current circumstances. The report  argues that despite ACT’s exit from Myanmar “the FOA Guideline remains a model example of a novel approach to ensure respect for workers’ rights in global value chains, with engagement and ownership of trade unions and employers and actively promoted and supported by buying brands.”