Statement by H&M and Gap Inc. at the conclusion of the ILO Labor Capacity Building Forum in Yangon
The Government of Myanmar together with the ILO and the Governments of the United States of America, Japan, Denmark and the European Union are jointly implementing the Initiative on Labour Law Reform and Institutional Capacity Building to improve labor rights and practices in Myanmar. The ILO held a Stakeholders Forum on May 18 and 19 to bring together domestic and international stakeholders to discuss labor issues in Myanmar, identify priority challenges, share global experiences and support efforts to address the gaps.
The following is a joint statement by H&M and Gap Inc. at the conclusion of the Forum.
"As leading international apparel companies who are among the first sourcing in Myanmar, and as founding members of the BSR Myanmar Responsible Sourcing Working Group, H&M and Gap Inc. welcome Myanmar's commitment to the labor law reform process and encourage its implementation based on the four core elements outlined by the ILO:
- Comprehensive in that it covers all workers and leaves no “gaps”
- Accessible in that the law needs to be understood by all stakeholders, who need to be part of labor law drafting through a more inclusive process
- Appropriate to the Myanmar context
- Consistent with international human rights and ILO conventions, and with the removal of all remaining inconsistencies among existing laws
We are pleased to have participated in the Stakeholder Forum, as we seek collaboration with other stakeholders to support labor capacity building, worker rights and the advancement of the rule of law. We are committed to working with our suppliers and other stakeholders in Myanmar to secure continued progress towards the widespread implementation of global best practices so that the garment sector can play a meaningful and helpful role in Myanmar’s continued economic, social and democratic development.”
Helena Helmerson, Global Head of Production, H&M
Debbie Mesloh, VP, Global Government and Public Affairs, Gap Inc.
Gap Inc. in Myanmar
In June 2014, Gap Inc. became the first American retailer to source from Myanmar. The company entered the country after rigorous due diligence, which included discussions with international and local NGOs, trade union leaders and local officials on the ground, industry representatives and Western government officials. Gap Inc. is a member of BSR and together with other brands, has committed to Principles for Responsible Sourcing for Myanmar’s garment sector. Underscoring its commitment to capacity building, the company launched a public private partnership with USAID to extend the reach of its award-winning women’s empowerment program, P. A. C. E., and has been working in partnership with the International Labor Organization on labor capacity building in the garment industry. Gap Inc. voluntarily reported its activities in Myanmar to the United States State Department, see the report here.
H&M in Myanmar
H&M placed test orders in Myanmar in 2013, started sourcing from a small number of units in 2014 and opened a production office in Yangon in early 2015. Before entering Myanmar, the company conducted a thorough risk analysis with external stakeholders, both locally and globally. H&M works with BSR to mitigate current and future risks and to build the capacity of local suppliers. The company believes that transparency is the key to industry change and has published its complete supplier list on hm.com, including all Myanmar units. H&M has completed a human rights assessment questionnaire published in full on the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) http://business-humanrights.org/en/response-by-hm-myanmar-foreign-investment-tracking-project.