Global Labour University

Congratulations to Khaing Zar

Khaing Zar Aung, a GLU Alumna and President of the  Industrial Workers' Federation of Myanmar was awarded the Arthur Svensson Prize for trade Union Rights 2024.

The Prize commite awared “the courageous trade union leader Khaing Zar Aung from Myanmar”, wishing to “shine a spotlight on the resistance struggle against the military regime in Myanmar and the struggle for real democracy, including basic labour rights.”

Khaing Zar Aung is a former garment worker, who became active in the trade union movement when she worked as a migrant worker in Thailand. In exile, she worked on supporting other migrant workers and defending their rights.

When the democratic transition began, she returned to Myanmar and eventually became the head of the Industrial Workers' Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) and the largest trade union Confederation of Trade Unions of Myanmar (CTUM), an organisation which was banned in Myanmar until 2012. Under her leadership, the union managed to organize the workers, mainly young women, in the textile industry which expanded rapidly as several international brands moved production there due to cheap labour.

After the military coup in 2021, Khaing was once again forced into exile, this time in Germany, where the Global Labour University helped her gain a new home, and introduced her to the “Labour Policies and Globalisation” MA programme. She has firmly acted as voice of the Myanmar trade union movement in Europe and globally.

She continues to fight the military junta in international bodies, mobilizing for international solidarity, putting pressure on international brands to withdraw from Myanmar, and has campaigned for the EU to withdraw trade preferences as long as the military junta is in power. Khain is a “symbol of all those who sacrifice all their time for a better society”.

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