Lingerie firm departs – a victory?
From BBC News, 28 January 2002
European multinational underwear company, Triumph International, has decided to leave operations in Burma after a lengthy and emotive campaign by pressure groups in Europe criticising Burma’s labour standards. About 1,000 workers will be made redundant.
Triumph set up operations in 1996, but has been dogged by accusations of forced and child labour.
In November 2000 the International Labour Organisation appealed to its tripartite members (unions, employers, and governments) to review contacts and trade with Burma.
Denying the use of any unacceptable labour techniques for which Burma is well known, Triumph claims its departure is because there was no prospect of democracy for Burma. This prompts the question: did Burma show any substantial movement towards democracy when Triumph initially set up shop? Answer: absolutely not.
The decision to leave has been greeted as a victory by the pressure groups. It is a victory for the campaigners themselves because they have achieved their objective. But a key question remains unanswered: how do the redundant workers feel about the ‘victory’?
The next issue of ALU will run a country profile on Burma when such questions will be examined in more detail.