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Join the trade union movement fighting for democracy in Myanmar

February 8th, 2021  •  Author:   International Trade Union Confederation  •  4 minute read
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On 1 February 2021, a day before the newly elected Parliament convened, the Tatmadaw – the Myanmar military – arrested President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and more than a hundred elected lawmakers from the National League of Democracy (NLD), which scored a landslide victory in the November 2020 election. Claiming last November’s election fraudulent, the Tatmadaw declared a one-year state of emergency.

The next day, on 2 February 2021, doctors and health workers from 70 hospitals in Myanmar put down their tools in protest against the coup. Residents in Yangon have been banging pots and pans each night at 8 p.m. to oppose the coup.

Within days, workers went on strike all over the country, shutting down workplaces, including the Tatmadaw-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, Myanmar National Airlines, railways, mines, and government ministries as well as construction sites, garment factories and schools.

ITUC’s affiliate, the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM), and the Myanmar Industry Craft and Service Trade Unions Federation (MICS) have left the National Tripartite Labour Forum to demonstrate that they do not recognise the current administration, and they have called upon members to join the general strike on 8 February 2021.

Following coups in 1962 and 1988, the military junta has brutally crushed the democratic movements, imposed martial law and house arrests on opposition leaders, refused to cede power to democratically elected governments, banned trade unions and established an economic stronghold to extract wealth and natural resources in the country.

International sanctions on Myanmar were lifted in 2011 after the release of Aung San Suu Kyi that ended her 15-year house arrest. Following the establishment of the civilian government in 2015, leaders of the then Federation of Trade Unions of Burma (FTUB), including Maung Maung, whom the ITUC and international trade unions had been supporting during their exile, returned to Myanmar and registered the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM).

In support of CTUM, and in coordination with the Council of Global Unions (CGU), the ITUC is calling on affiliates worldwide to:

  •  Protest loudly in front of union offices and/or Myanmar embassies or consulates. Make sure to respect health and safety protocols and share videos and photos online.
  •  Make noise on social media by posting statements, videos and photos on official and personal social media platforms.
  •  Use your union’s communication channels to call on affiliates and workers to join the solidarity action.
  •  Organise press conferences and/or publish opinion pieces in popular media.
  •  Write a letter to the representation of Myanmar in your country denouncing the coup and calling for respect for democracy (model letter)
  •  Write a letter to your foreign minister calling on your government to condemn the coup and exert pressure on the military (model letter)

When taking action, use the three-finger salute, wear red shirts and carry red balloons, and use whatever noise devices you can find. Suggested hashtags are #Workers4Myanmar and #SaveMyanmar.

Follow and support CTUM on Facebook and consult this action page for materials and updates on the campaign.


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