ITUC OnLine – October 11, 2007

Burmese Trade Union Federation Asks Companies to Disinvest

Brussels, 11 October 2007 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC is currently writing to 430 companies worldwide which have or are suspected to have business links with Burma, calling on them to end their business links. The action is in support of the ITUC associated organisation the Federation of Trade Unions – Burma (FTUB), which today renewed its call for companies to disinvest in the country. In the letter, ITUC General Secretary underlines that in spite of the growing number of companies doing business there, economic conditions for the vast majority of Burmese are deteriorating, while it is the military junta and its small coterie of supporters which are benefiting.

“The Burmese junta, responsible for years of murder, torture, massive forced labour and absolute repression of the population, is ripping off billions of dollars and every single business deal which is done helps line the pockets of the generals. This corrupt and incompetent regime is responsible for a catastrophic fall in living standards across the country.  Foreign investment has done nothing to stop that. On the contrary, it fuels repression by enabling the regime to purchase weapons used against defenceless civilians: the army’s share in the national budget is 40%.

Health and education combined amount to less than 7%! ‘Business as usual’ in Burma will only make the junta stronger”, said Ryder.

The Global Unions public database listing companies with actual or suspected business relations with Burma is updated on an ongoing basis, and companies which show that they no longer have business links are removed from the list. Companies which do not withdraw will be the subject of further pressure in their home countries from ITUC national affiliates and also by the Global Union Federations in the different economic sectors.

The company-based action is taking place alongside trade union campaign action to get governments, the European Union and other intergovernmental bodies to strengthen and deepen economic and financial sanctions and cut off military and security supplies to the regime. ITUC and European TUC affiliates are currently pressing the European governments to ensure that EU sanctions, which will be reviewed on Monday, include a comprehensive ban on EU trade with Burma covering all strategic sectors, including in particular oil and gas, gemstones, and tropical wood.