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Triumph pulls out of Myanmar

Child labour is rife in Myanmar, according to the ILO Keystone Archive

Swiss-based Triumph International, a leading underwear brand, is to halt production in Myanmar, amid growing international pressure.

The company announced the decision on Monday after months of protests and pressure by the Geneva-based International Labour Organization (ILO) and several non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

A year ago the ILO called on governments, companies and unions to implement sanctions against Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

Public pressure

Triumph said it was pulling out in response to public pressure about the human rights situation in Myanmar.

“Of course the increasing protests of NGOs in Europe have motivated us to reconsider the situation,” Triumph spokeman, Aloys Hirzel, told swissinfo.

The decision followed “a fresh assessment of the situation over the last few weeks because we have not seen major changes on a political level in Myanmar”, he said.

The Clean Clothes Campaign and the Bern Declaration are among the NGOs that have demanded Triumph withdraw from Myanmar because it is “a country that massively and systematically violates human rights.”

The NGOs welcomed Triumph’s announcement.

“It’s a victory for the International Trade Union movement and the Clean Clothes Campaign,” Colette Nova from the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions told swissinfo.

As a result of Triumph’s decision, 1,000 employees in Myanmar will be laid off, since the firm has not been able to find a buyer for its operations.

Forced labour

According to the ILO, there are around one million forced labourers in Myanmar.

In an attempt to avoid laying off staff in Myanmar, Triumph held negotiations with various interested parties for several months. Despite intensive efforts, no buyer could be found, the company added.

As a result, Triumph decided to gradually wind down production. The company says it is working on a social plan to help employees affected by the closure.

“We have to accept that we are not able to protect our employees in Myanmar as much as we would like – as would correspond with the social philosophy of Triumph,” Hirzel told swissinfo.


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