The European Union (EU) plans to provide EUR 5 million in cash to support garment workers in Myanmar who have been affected by COVID-19. The Myan Ku (Quick Assistance) emergency cash fund will go directly to cut, make, pack (CMP) workers who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 As of end March, over 25000 workers from more than 40 factories have been laid off, while 350000 are at great risk of either being suspended without pay or losing their jobs permanently, according to the EU. The industry hires up to 700000 predominantly female workers across 600 factories.
The Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD) a Yangon-based think tank says, as much as 40 % of Myanmar’s factories have been severely disrupted by COVID-19, and that one-third of the factories are dependent on the EU market. Factories in the country, especially those that manufacture garments and textiles, had already been facing unprecedented challenges since February as supply of raw materials from China stalled and importers from the West began slashing orders. Cash relief is available to all affected garment workers, regardless of whether the factories are local or foreign-owned.
The Myan Ku fund was mobilised through the EU’s Humanitarian Development Peace Nexus Response Mechanism. SMART Textile & Garments, an EU-funded project on promoting labour and environmental standards in the industry, will implement the fund and cash transfers will be made via Wave Money. Around 80 % of the funds will be used to support at least 30000 to 80000 workers laid off and driven out of their residences. They will receive K 75000 per month for April, May and June.
Of the remaining funds, 10 % will be used to support 3000 to 8000 people who were illegally terminated. These will K125000 per month. The remaining 10 % will be given directly to SME workers via Wave Money.