Statement of the International Union UAW on the Coup in Myanmar


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The International Union, UAW representing one million active and retired members supports the Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM) in its rejection of any action that impedes Myanmar’s democratic transition.

In 2010, after decades of military dictatorship characterized by violence, forced labor, and the denial of fundamental human rights including worker rights, democracy began to take shape in Myanmar. Incipient democracy gradually brought multilateral cooperation, investment, and jobs. While the military retained substantial power, there were elections, civil society organizations, and a growing labor movement. Myanmar’s unions have worked to support the country’s transition to democracy. The International Labor Organization (ILO) has dedicated considerable time and resources to help build an industrial relations system and put an end to forced labor.

On Feb. 1, 2021, that progress was reversed in a military coup that sought to deny the clear results of the November 2020 election in which National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates were elected with overwhelming support. The military’s claim of widespread election fraud is without merit.

The UAW calls on Myanmar’s military leaders to recognize that economic growth and improved living standards result from democratization and peaceful co-existence of multiple political parties.

  • The UAW demands that the Myanmar military
  • rescind the state of emergency,
  • immediately release all detained political figures and activists,
  • remove limits on freedom of expression, assembly, and association,
  • respect the rights of the people to choose their leaders, and
  • withdraw the draft cyber security law that would have devastating consequences for democracy and human rights, and disastrous effects on Myanmar’s society and economy.
    • The UAW urges all companies to end any commercial ties they may have with the Myanmar military and use their leverage to secure the release of detainees, restore democratic institutions, and guarantee the human and labor rights of all Myanmar workers.
    • The UAW calls on international companies operating in Myanmar to provide support to workers where operations are curtailed and to protect workers protesting the coup.
    • The UAW recognizes as a very positive first step the initiative of some global retail brands sourcing from Myanmar that states that democracy and respect for human and labor rights are imperative for business success and continuity.
    • The UAW calls on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against the military leaders responsible for the coup. Sanctions must target economic capital which provide the military with its revenue.
    • The UAW calls on the UN Security Council to impose a global arms embargo on Myanmar.

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