The Gap in Myanmar

30 Aug

The Gap in Myanmar

How much does a pair of men’s blue jeans cost at the Gap? Starting at around $50.00 as I recall from a glance at prices when I visited a Gap in Massachusetts. A check just now on Gap.com just showed a sale for men’s jeans going for $36.37 down from 59.95 so, what a great deal!’

Along the border of Thailand in Mae Sot, thousands of Myanmar refugees are garment workers who live as sort of indentured servants. They are not forced to work, but have no passport so can not leave Mae Sot and are refugees from Myanmar. They are stateless, have few rights and are therefore perfect workers for garment factories.

 

A Burmese girl stitches pants in a garment factory in Burma (from the internet) 

The average monthly wage in Myanmar for a garment factory worker is estimated to be between $35.00 to $60.00 a month according to several people I talked to recently. In Myanmar, workers have a right to unionize.

Great work by Simon Lewis published on Irrawaddy.org
http://www.irrawaddy.org/business/gap-audit-reveals-issues-burma-garment-factories.html

Some excerpts here:
“Working hours exceeded the permitted limit of 60 total hours (including overtime), and workers did not take one day off in seven days. On the other hand, workers interviewed at one factory did consider overtime work to be voluntary,” the report said, adding that, “Workers did not understand how to calculate their wages.”

“The assessment for Gap mirrors concerns previously highlighted by labor advocates about garment factories in Burma, where workers are paid minimal wages for working long hours in poor conditions.

It found that both factories did not have policies in place on disciplining workers, leading to “inconsistent disciplinary practices and punitive fines.”
“Workers reported cases of verbal abuse and inappropriate behavior by supervisors. Examples of witnessing or being subjected to verbal abuse were considerably more widespread at one factory than the other,” the report said.
“Line supervisors had taken unofficial disciplinary action or collected fines from workers without a clear basis for action at one factory.”
http://www.irrawaddy.org/business/gap-audit-reveals-issues-burma-garment-factories.html

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