Yangon's garment sector workforce


In May 2017, C&A Foundation commissioned Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation and Andaman Research & Advisory to undertake a study of the garment sector workforce. C&A Foundation and its partners recognized there was a lack of a strong quantitative evidence on the demographics and economic standing of garment sector workers. The report seeks to provide a first step towards understanding who Myanmar garment workers are, their lives, and how organizations can work to empower them. 

For this  a survey was conducted of 778 workers in two townships in Yangon, Hlaingtharya and Shwepyitha. Following this, field teams used transect walks based on worker hostels to identify respondents. 


  • Length of service varies, 25% of workers have spent less than 6 months at their current factories and almost half over 1 year. 
  • For over 50%, their current job is their first garment sector position. 
  • Half (50%) got their job through a friend and even more (60%) thought their network of friends was the best way to find a new job. 
  • Base pay is the most important characteristic of any new job (67%) 
  • There is a split between those who want to leave the sector and those who like their current job.


  • Of the slight majority of workers who had heard about labor unions (54%), understanding remained low, with 56% of them saying they did not know what a union’s purpose was.  
  • 35% of workers who had heard about unions reported there were unions in their factory and most had heard about them from co-workers or senior employees (81% combined) 
  • However, union membership is extremely low:  just 15% of those who had access to unions were members, or just 22 out of a 778 person survey (3% of the whole sample). 
  • Perceptions of unions were also mixed, with only 42% of those who had heard of unions but were not members expressing an interest in joining one. Qualitative findings suggested workers viewed union activities as taking up their limited free time for an unclear result

To find out more, download the full report here.