Swedish fashion giant H&M is set to investigate 20 alleged cases of labour abuses at its supplier factories in Myanmar, according to a report.
It comes after a wider investigation by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), seen by Reuters, uncovered 156 cases of labour abuses at Myanmar garment factories in the year to February 2023, up from 56 in the prior-year period.
The most common abuses were wage reduction and wage theft, followed by unfair dismissal, inhumane work rates, and forced overtime, according to the report, which is set to be published on Wednesday.
Responding to the alleged abuses at its supplier factories, H&M told Reuters: “All the cases raised in the report by BHRRC are being followed-up and where needed remediated through our local team on the ground and in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders.
“We are deeply concerned by the latest developments in Myanmar, and we see increased challenges to conduct our operations according to our standards and requirements.”
Report shines light on Myanmar factory conditions
UK-based BHRRC has been investigating abuses across factories in Myanmar since the military seized power in February 2021. It has so far tracked cases at 124 separate factories.
Reuters also contacted a spokesperson for Myanmar's military government, and the Myanmar Garment Manufacturing Association about the findings of the report, but did not get a reply.
BHRRC’s report also found 21 cases of alleged abuses linked to suppliers at H&M rival Inditex. The Spanish group, whose portfolio includes fast fashion giant Zara, declined to comment on the report, Reuters said.
However, last month, Inditex announced it would stop sourcing from Myanmar following a campaign by global labour union IndustriALL to persuade companies to stop investing in the Southeast Asian country following the military coup.
Inditex did not say when exactly it would stop sourcing from the country, but said it would be “a phased and responsible withdrawal”.