Primark embroiled in claims of Myanmar supplier worker abuses
Garment workers in Myanmar producing clothing for Primark have been subject to abuses, including containment and dismissals, according to a report by the Guardian.
Testimonies given to the newspaper claim workers employed by GY Sen, which supplies Primark, were locked inside their factory by supervisors who tried to prevent them from joining anti-coup protests.
Workers claimed their supervisors had sought to prevent them from missing work to take part in protests in the main city Yangon on 18 February. The report also claims up to 1,000 workers were trapped inside and were only able to break free after several hours.
According to workers, about 20 were subsequently fired for missing shifts to participate in the civil disobedience movement, through which vast numbers of people across the country have refused to work. A spokesperson for GY Sen has denied all allegations.
Primark told the newspaper they were “very serious allegations… Our highest priority is to keep workers safe and well, and ensuring their rights and freedoms are respected,” a spokesperson said.
Primark also said it launched an investigation into the factory on 5 March after a local labour organisation raised concerns, but did not specify details.
In a written statement, Primark also said: “We will work with our supplier and, where required, other trusted third parties. If the factory is found to have breached our code [of conduct], we will work with the supplier and factory to remediate any issues”.
It added: “Given the current situation in Myanmar, we anticipate that conducting the investigation may be more challenging than usual”.
It also noted that it would not place any further orders with the factory until the inquiry was completed.
However, workers at GY Sen said that, even before the coup, they were put under pressure to complete excessive workloads and threatened with dismissal if they refused extra shifts. Staff were paid as little as 1,200 kyat (60p) an hour to work overtime, according to payslips seen by the Guardian.
A spokesperson for GY Sen denied that the workers were underpaid, saying: “We have paid them [for overtime] according to the standard rate under the law”.
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