BWI releases new report on Myanmar unionists’ extraordinary struggle for democracy

Recognising the pivotal milestones achieved and the indispensable role played by Myanmar's trade union movement, notably the Building and Woodworkers Federation of Myanmar (BWFM) within the Confederation of Trade Union Myanmar (CTUM), the Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) in the Asia Pacific, in collaboration with UNI APRO, Education International (EI APRO), and IndustriALL Southeast Asia, has published a new report titled "The Struggle Worth Fighting For: The Myanmar Union Activists' Extraordinary Resilience in the Pursuit of Democracy."

The report, which was released on the third year of a failed military coup in 2021 that unleashed the “Myanmar Spring Revolution,” focuses the spotlight on the unwavering determination of Burmese union leaders in their pursuit of a democratic future for Myanmar, building upon BWI’s earlier report titled “The Burmese Trade Unions’ Struggle to Reclaim Democracy” released in March 2023.

Myanmar's political landscape has undergone significant changes in the past year. The National Unity Government (NUG), recognised as the legitimate representative of the people of Myanmar, has progressively extended its control over territories. Simultaneously, international efforts to impose sanctions on the military junta and garner support for the NUG have gained momentum.

A significant milestone was reached last August when coordinated initiatives by the Council of Global Unions (CGU) and Burmese trade unions resulted in a favorable report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Commission of Inquiry (COI). This report underscored the military regime's failure to comply with ILO conventions C87 and C29. In response, the ILO Governing Body has scheduled a discussion on a potential resolution under Article 33 of the ILO Constitution for its 350th Session in March 2024. Additionally, the upcoming 112th International Labour Conference (ILC) in June 2024 may witness the adoption of a resolution akin to the one passed concerning Belarus. Such a resolution would urge ILO constituents - governments, employers, and workers - to reassess their relations with Myanmar’s military regime in light of the COI findings and take appropriate measures to uphold workers' rights, particularly freedom of association.

As Myanmar continues its journey towards democracy amid enduring challenges posed by the military junta, BWI sees that the resilience and dedication of the country’s trade union leaders serve as a beacon of hope. Their efforts continue to garner international support and solidarity, advancing the cause for a more just future for Myanmar’s working people.

Download the full report here.