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Covid-19 deals cruel blow to Myanmar garment workers

Half the sector's workforce of 700,000 are at risk of being suspended without pay or losing their jobs

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Covid-19 deals cruel blow to Myanmar garment workers

People watch firefighters spraying disinfectant along a street as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus in Yangon on April 24. (Photo: Sai Aung Main/AFP)

As the United Nations predicts that half the world’s workers are at risk of losing their jobs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of garment workers in Myanmar are facing a precarious situation.

Government figures show more than 60,000 factory workers in Myanmar have already lost their jobs since the start of the crisis, including those working in the garment factories that supply some of the world’s biggest fashion brands.

Young women migrate from the dry zone in central Myanmar and the Irrawaddy Delta region as traditional livelihoods in agriculture are lost due to climate change. They head to Yangon, the country’s commercial hub, and Mandalay, the second-largest city, to work in factories.

At the end of March more than 25,000 workers had been laid off at more than 40 garment factories which had been hit hard by supply chain disruptions and a slump in orders caused by the pandemic.

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