Mon 30 Aug 2004
Filed under: International,News
Some of the world’s top shipping companies appear in the Burma Campaign’s annual “dirty list” that seeks to shame companies its regards as helping the country’s military regime.
Four well-known names from the shipping industry and insurers Lloyd’s of London have been added to the latest revised list of 95 companies that operate or invest in Myanma.
The list comprises British companies or foreign companies with a significant presence in the UK that do business in Myanmar.
The Burma Campaign says that these companies are supporting a regime it describes as one of the longest running and most brutal military dictatorships in the world.
New to list this year are: Ben Line Agencies, Hapag Lloyd, AP M’ller Maersk, NYK, Lloyd’s of London and Ince & Co.
According to the pressure group Ben Line, Hapag Lloyd and NYK all have offices in the country, Maersk and Lloyd’s London have agents there.
Hapag Lloyd, NYK and Maersk are all involved in the export of Burmese goods, while both the German and Japanese companies have cruiseships that call at Myanmar.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese democracy movement have asked tourists not to visit Burma because they say it helps fund the regime and gives it legitimacy.
According to the Burma Campaign forced and child labour was used to develop many tourist facilities.
Maritime lawyers Ince & Co have also found there way onto the list. “Through their Singapore office they have been active in facilitating trade and investment in Burma,” the campaign said. Insurers Lloyd’s of London has been added as some its members insure companies operating in
Myanmar, and also local companies such as Myanmar Airways.
The shipping companies have joined the likes of Hutchison Whampoa, which operates a container terminal Myanmar’s capital Yangon.
“Companies investing in Burma are not doing so because of an altruistic wish to help the people of Burma,” the Burma Campaign said.
“They are there to make a profit, and are attracted by salaries of less than 25p ($0.45) a day, a compliant workforce where unions are banned, and limited health and safety laws which in any case are rarely enforced. The
minimum working age is 13.”
Recent years have seen many major multinational companies pull out of Myanmar including Texaco and Premier Oil.