Trade union internationalism and political change in Myanmar

TitleTrade union internationalism and political change in Myanmar
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsHenry, Nicholas
JournalGlobal Change, Peace & Security
Pagination69 - 84
Date Published2015///
KeywordsILO, International Labor Organization, international orms, Myanmar, non-state actors, political change, trade unions

Networks of trade union activists working as part of the global union movement have played a central role in political change in Myanmar. In response to trade union advocacy, compliance with International Labour Organization (ILO) standards was made a key condition for the lifting of sanctions on Myanmar, leading the current civilian government to pass revised labor laws allowing the formation of independent trade unions. Union activists have taken advantage of this new freedom, with a rapid growth in registration of local union organizations since 2011. Based on recent fieldwork in Myanmar, including interviews with union leaders and ILO officials, this paper presents an empirical analysis of political relationships formed by local and international union organizations in the context of multi-level political change. In this case study of translating international norms into domestic political change, local and international trade union networks are shown to have a significant impact on achieving compliance with international labor standards.