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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 22:47 GMT
Bra company pulls out of Burma
Burma Campaign Advertising campaign
A high-profile campaign led to the factory's demise
Triumph International, a leading European luxury lingerie firm, has announced it is pulling out of Burma after coming under sustained pressure from labour organisations and exiled Burmese groups over working conditions.

The decision is motivated by a public debate in Europe on the political situation in Myanmar that has become increasingly charged emotionally

Triumph statement
It says it will close its factory there within the next four months and lay off about 1,000 workers.

Campaigners accused Triumph of using forced labour and said they had proof that child workers were used to upgrade the facilities on the site. They also accused the company of supporting the military government.

Burma has one of the worst human rights records in the world and its working practices have been condemned by the United Nations' International Labour Organisation.

In November 2000, the ILO called on its members - governments, unions and employers - to reconsider their ties to Burma because of the persistence of forced labour.

Triumph has denied that any of its facilities make use of forced labour, insisting that conditions for its employees there are much better than the norm.

The company started operating in Burma in 1996, and by the following year had established a factory producing underwear for export.

No future

Activists stepped up their activities two months ago with the launch of a high-profile campaign in Great Britain, with the catchphrase "Support Breasts, Not Dictators".

A statement from the company blamed the increasingly emotional tenor of the debate.

But a company spokesman, Aloyse Hirzel, told the BBC that a further reason for the pull-out was that the company saw no prospect of democratic change within Burma in the near future.

He said Triumph was working on a social plan to help employees in Burma who would lose their jobs, and this would consist of some form of compensation.

The Burma campaign has hailed the news as a significant victory - and warned that the announcement should serve as a warning to other companies operating in Burma.

See also:

30 Nov 01 | Business
Burma's economy heads for crisis
03 Dec 01 | Business
Fund giants warn against Burma trade
05 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Burma's slow road to reform
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Burma
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