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NEWS - BURMA: ILO boycott urged ove
- Subject: NEWS - BURMA: ILO boycott urged ove
- From: Rangoonp@xxxxxxx
- Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 10:57:00
Subject: NEWS - BURMA: ILO boycott urged over 'slavery'
World News / Asia-Pacific
16th june 1999
BURMA: ILO boycott urged over 'slavery'
By Frances Williams in Geneva
The International Labour Organisation is being urged
trade unions and employers' groups to boycott almost
dealings with Burma for failing to end its practice of
forced labour, which they describe as "nothing but a
contemporary form of slavery".
In a rare example of joint action, the two sides have
submitted a draft resolution to the ILO's annual
conference in Geneva which ends tomorrow. The
resolution calls on the ILO to refuse Burma, which
the convention in 1955, all technical assistance
help in eliminating forced labour, and to bar it from
meetings other than the conference itself and meetings
of the governing body. These are the most severe
penalties the ILO can inflict as it has no power to
The ILO conference is scheduled to vote on the
resolution tomorrow and it stands a good chance of
success. In addition to the trade union and employers'
representatives, who together have 50 per cent of the
votes, a number of western governments including the
US and UK are expected to support the resolution.
Juan Somavia, ILO director-general, told ILO members
last month that, despite its statements to the
the government of Burma had not implemented any of
the recommendations of an ILO committee of inquiry
report issued in August 1998.
That report, based on eyewitness as well as
documentary evidence, concluded that Burma's ILO
obligation to eliminate forced labour was being
by the military junta "in a widespread and systematic
manner, with total disregard for the human dignity,
and health and basic needs of the people".
The Brussels-based International Confederation of Free
Trade Unions said yesterday that more than 800,000
people were subject to forced labour in Burma. It
described the practice as a "crime against humanity".
According to the ILO, thousands of villagers are
conscripted, often by the military, to work for little
pay as porters, messengers or labourers on roads,
railways, bridges and farms. Many are ill-treated.
are children, sent by their families to prevent the
adult income earners.
Pointing to Burma's "flagrant and persistent failure
comply" with the ILO's forced labour convention, the
committee of inquiry called on the government to amend
its laws to outlaw forced labour, fulfilling a
pledge; to eliminate forced labour in practice; and to
punish those exacting it.