From Wed Apr 24 11:30:15 2002
From: ICFTU Press <>
To: ICFTU Online <>
Subject: ICFTU Online: EU & Burma
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2002 17:10:07 +0200

ICFTU & ETUC call for European Union action on Burma

ICFTU Online, 24 April 2002

Brussels, 24 April 2002 (ICFTU online): The ICFTU and the ETUC have expressed their serious disappointment concerning the Council of Ministers' decision not to toughen the European Union's measures against the military junta in Burma (Myanmar).

The sorry history of this repressive regime shows that the Burma government is not yet serious about following through on promises to stop its use of forced labour, stated ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder. Without international pressure, nothing is ever going to change.

The inaction of the Council of Ministers appears to have resulted from the recent announcement by the Burmese government that it would accept the posting of an ILO Liaison Officer in Rangoon. However, the ICFTU points out that it has yet to be seen whether Burma will implement its agreement and actually allow the person designated by the ILO Director-General to take up the function of liaison officer to Burma.

Furthermore, the government of Burma has taken no concrete action to dismantle the forced labour system and to punish those still imposing the practice. The ILO mission in February 2002 once again did not return with any indication that forced labour is being tackled effectively. To the contrary, Myanmar's ruling military has effectively blocked international efforts to halt the army's use of forced labour, according to comments made by the ILO. In addition, the junta has also refused to take any concrete action in the case of six Shan villagers, widely believed to have been murdered by army personnel last August after they complained against being subjected to forced labour.

The massive violation of workers' human rights in Burma will not just stop on its own. We are therefore continuing to call on the European Union and EU governments to implement effective economic measures to put pressure on Burma, based upon the ILO Resolution adopted in June 2000, concluded ETUC General Secretary Emilio Gabaglio.

The ICFTU and ETUC believe that only by taking such measures can the ILO Resolution of June 2000 be implemented successfully and forced labour in Burma brought to an end.