Major brands including the Zara fashion label are investigating reports of union workers’ mass sackings in their supply chains, in the midst of fears from labor advocates that coronavirus has fueled ‘union-busting’ in factories across Southeast Asia. As the pandemic affects the global economy, multiple Western retailers have cancelled orders or requested discounts from suppliers in countries like Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, resulting in many staff going unpaid or being fired.
Unions and activists in the area said factory bosses were targeting and firing union leaders while maintaining non-unionized employees, and predicted the outbreak could spark a rollback of rights on issues ranging from fair pay to safe jobs. Bestseller, Mango, Primark and Zara fashion companies have launched their investigations into union-busting allegations in Myanmar. Inditex-owned Zara confirmed it was looking into the issue, while Bestseller and British-based Primark also said they were investigating but the sackings were consistent with Myanmar’s labor laws.