New Report: Popular Garment (Myanmar/Burma)

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Dear Colleagues,

We wanted to share with you the WRC’s report on labor rights violations at the factory, Popular Garment, in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). Popular Garment had been disclosed by Cutter & Buck, as one of the latter’s suppliers for apparel licensed by universities affiliated with the WRC. The WRC’s assessment of Popular Garment identified numerous violations of Burmese labor law, international labor conventions, and university codes of conduct. These included the discriminatory dismissal of roughly 300 employees on account of their membership in a union, a serious violation of the right of freedom of association.

The WRC shared this report in draft form with Cutter & Buck, as well as with another buyer from the factory, Fechheimer Brothers, a major supplier of public employee uniforms. The WRC requested both buyers’ cooperation in ensuring that the factory takes the measures the WRC has recommended in this report to correct the labor rights violations that the WRC had identified.

Cutter & Buck informed the WRC that, although Cutter & Buck had disclosed the factory as a supplier of collegiate apparel, Cutter & Buck had, in fact, ceased doing business with the factory and its owners, for commercial reasons, and had no immediate intention of resuming business relations. Upon request from the WRC, Cutter & Buck sent a letter to the factory’s owner informing the latter that it would not place any orders with any of the factory owner’s facilities unless and until the violations of university codes of conduct identified in the WRC report are fully remedied.

Fechheimer Brothers indicated that it continues to use Popular Garment for production of its goods. Despite multiple requests from the WRC, Fechheimer Brothers has not provided any substantive response to the findings and recommendations in the WRC’s report. On November 9, however, Fechheimer Brothers informed the WRC that such a response would be forthcoming and that its auditors will be meeting with the factory soon concerning corrective actions. The WRC will continue to monitor this process.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Scott Nova and Ben Hensler