At the ACTU Congress held on 5-6 June 2024 in Adelaide, delegates from across the country and various unions passed a resolution to advocate for international support for the civil disobedience movement (composed of workers and citizens) in their efforts to restore democracy in Myanmar. Please read the resolution below.

Myanmar Resolution

Congress notes that since the military coup of 1 February 2021 against the democratically elected government of Myanmar, over 5,217 people have been killed by the junta, over 26,811 arrested, over 3 million internally displaced, and 18.6 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Trade union members have been on the front lines of the civil disobedience movement since the start of the coup, and the junta has responded by declaring 16 labour organisations illegal. All democratic and independent trade unions have been decimated. Trade unionists are continually being arrested, jailed, tortured and harassed, their offices raided and vandalised, forcing them to operate underground. Thet Hnin Aung, General Secretary of MICs-TUFs (Myanmar Industries Crafts and Services Trade Union Federation) was abducted and held incommunicado by the military after his release from prison in June, and in November, he was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment with hard labour in a military tribunal under terrorism charges. Trade unionists have had their citizenship revoked and been forced into hiding: Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) President U Maung Maung, who is instrumental in the struggle for democracy and workers’ rights in Myanmar, had his citizenship revoked by the regime in 2022.

The restoration of democracy in Myanmar is a key international priority for the Australian union movement, and we stand in solidarity with the workers of Myanmar in their fight for democracy.

Congress commends the Albanese Government for imposing sanctions against a number of military-linked entities and military leaders. Sanctions are critical to stopping the flow of foreign revenue to the junta, reducing their ability to buy military equipment and commit atrocities against the people of Myanmar.  The Australian Government must enact further sanctions against the regime, however, including state owned enterprises in natural resources such as oil and gas, mining, gems and timber.

Congress is deeply concerned that some Australian companies, executives and investors have continued to operate in Myanmar’s mining sector post-coup, effectively financing the military junta. Congress calls on the Australian Government to act urgently to impose further sanctions on the junta and its businesses, and stop Australian companies from providing funds, directly and indirectly, to the junta.

Congress notes the ILO Commission of Inquiry report in respect of non-observance by Myanmar of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29), published in August 2023, found widespread violations of workers’ rights under these Conventions, including military’s ongoing systematic and widespread violence and repression against trade unionists and civil society activists, denial of civil liberties, use of residents in military activities including as human shields. The Commission of Inquiry called on the military to take immediate action to stop ongoing egregious violations of freedom of association and forced labour and prevent future abuses. Instead of heeding the calls of the Commission of Inquiry, the military have rejected its recommendations, and in February 2024 enacted a compulsory military conscription law, meaning men aged 18-45 and women aged 18-35 can be drafted into the armed forces for two years.

Congress calls on the Australian Government to advocate and support the realisation of the ILO Resolution, adopted by the International Labour Conference on 19 June 2021, for a return to democracy and respect for fundamental rights in Myanmar. The ILO follow-up to the Commission of Inquiry report in May 2024 confirms “there is no demonstration of a meaningful understanding on the part of the military authorities of the gravity of the situation and the need for specific and urgent action”. The State Administration Council (SAC) – the military regime proxy government – is a criminal entity that cannot implement the ILO COI Recommendations. The very nature of the SAC is contrary to a responsible government ensuing the rights of workers.

Congress calls on the Australian Government to expediate the implementation of the ILO COI recommendations at the 12th International Labour Conference (ILC) by actively supporting measures under Article 33 of the ILO Constitution, where the ILO Governing Body may recommend to the ILC actions to secure compliance against any Member State that fails to carry out the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry.

Congress further calls on the Australian Government to formally recognise the National Unity Government (NUG) – the civilian group of elected lawmakers and members of Parliament who were ousted in the 2021 coup – as the government of Myanmar. Congress calls on the Australian Government to support the credentialling of the tripartite NUG delegation at the International Labour Conference and the United Nations.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!