Myanmar: ILO Commission of Inquiry demands end to union repression and forced labour

photo: Myat Thu Kyaw, AFP

The ITUC welcomes the findings of the ILO’s Commission of Inquiry (COI) into Myanmar, which has demanded an end to the repression of trade unions and to forced labour in the country, especially of those violations linked to the military.

The report of the 14th ILO COI could lead to Myanmar’s dictatorship being taken to the International Court of Justice. It calls on stakeholders to seek a peaceful return to democracy and its recommendations urge the military regime to:

  • Cease all forms of violence, torture and other inhumane treatment against trade union leaders and members.
  • Release and withdraw all criminal charges against trade unionists detained in relation to the exercise of their civil liberties and legitimate trade union activities.
  • Fully restore the protection of basic civil liberties suspended since the coup d’état.

The recommendations also compel the military regime to end forced or compulsory labour managed by the army and its associated entities, as well as the practice of forced recruitment into the army.

ITUC Acting General Secretary Luc Triangle welcomed the report and said: “This report has a message for the military regime, the people of Myanmar and the global community. The vicious behaviour of the military is unacceptable, and the whole world must stand with the people and the unions of Myanmar to isolate the regime and restore freedom and democracy.

“Freedom for unions, and freedom from forced labour are fundamental human rights and undermining those rights anywhere undermines them everywhere. This exposure of the Myanmar military is a condemnation of repressive authoritarianism around the world.

“Global and national trade unions must continue to act in solidarity with the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar and its member organisations and workers, in jail, on the run and in exile. Their courage in resisting the regime demands our support and I am pleased that the ILO Commission of Inquiry has provided us with the evidence and the recommendations needed to restore social justice, freedom and democracy in Myanmar.”