Skip to main content

Global unions ramp up pressure on governments and corporations to isolate Myanmar military junta

09 Feb 2021
Global Unions Joint Statement

Ten Global Unions representing more than 200 million workers from across the world call on unions globally to ramp up pressure on governments and corporations to target the commercial interests of the Myanmar military junta.

We urge trade unions and workers around the world to organise, unite and stand with the people of Myanmar and isolate the Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders responsible for the coup.

In line with the Global Union’s vow to confront global forces that work against the interests of working people, leaders of the global union movement today:

  • Call on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against the military leaders responsible for the coup, Sanctions must also target economic capital which provide the military with its revenue;
  • Call on the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar;
  • Call on the European Union to cancel Myanmar's Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade status;
  • Call on international companies operating in Myanmar to end any direct or indirect business relationships or financial ties to military-owned businesses (details can be found in the UN Human Rights Council report on economic interest of the Myanmar military) and to use their leverage to secure the release of detainees, restore democratic institutions, and guarantee the human and labour rights of all Myanmar workers. This must include international companies providing support to workers where operations are curtailed, including protection to workers protesting the coup.

We call on our affiliated unions worldwide to support the measures outlined above and to:

  • Exert pressure on their national governments to demand that the Myanmar military rescind the state of emergency, immediately release all political figures and activists, defend the Myanmar people’s right to choose their leaders, and remove limits on freedom of expression, assembly and association.
  • Urge all companies they hold relationships with that operate or invest in Myanmar to end their commercial ties with the Myanmar military and use their leverage to secure the release of detainees, restore democratic institutions, and guarantee the human and labour rights of all Myanmar workers. This must include international companies providing support to workers where operations are curtailed, including protection to workers protesting the coup.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said that trade unions are appalled at the seizing of power by the military in Myanmar and will do all within our power to stop the coup succeeding.

“For the people of Myanmar, this is an extremely ominous time as the military attempt to rewrite the rules on the ground. We stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and pay tribute to those brave workers taking action defend their fragile democracy and reject the military takeover. The global trade union movement will fight to ensure the release of all those detained and bring an end to the violence and harassment of the people. The perpetrators of the coup must be isolated," said Burrow.

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said now is the time for the global trade union movement to stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers in Myanmar who continue to protest across the country in defiance against the coup and attempts to stifle dissent by internet blackouts.

“In the wake of the military coup we must unite and ramp up pressure on the UN Security Council, governments and corporations around the world to sanction, target and isolate the military regime until we secure the unconditional release of all detainees, the lifting of state of emergency and the return to civilian rule,” said Cotton.

The Global Unions signing this joint statement are: