December 16, 2003

Companies refusing to disclose if they source clothes from Burma are today named and shamed by the Burma Campaign UK.

Click here to read the report

41 clothing retailers have ignored repeated requests to disclose whether they source clothes from Burma. They include Harrods, Benetton, Argos, Jeffrey Rogers, MK One, Paul Smith, and Calvin Klein.

“Customers at these stores could inadvertently be buying their loved ones Christmas presents that have helped to fund one of the most brutal military dictatorships in the world,” says Yvette Mahon, Director of the Burma Campaign UK.

Burma appeals to manufacturers because of its very cheap labour, ban on trade unions and lack of health and safety laws. Factory wages are as low as 5p an hour. A factory employee working a 60 hour week could earn just £3. This is below the United Nations definition of an extreme poverty income.

Clothing exports are an important source of income for the military dictatorship in Burma. Two weeks ago the Burma Campaign UK published a report – Coming Clean, British Clothing Retailers and Burma – which found 99 major high street brands do not source from Burma, including all the top ten clothing retailers with a combined market share of more than 42%. Since then a further 39 brands have joined the ‘Clean List’, bringing the total to 138.

“Most retailers are now acting responsibly and won’t source from Burma, but a few seem to have something to hide,” says Yvette Mahon. “Customers have the right to know that when they are buying clothes they are not helping to fund the regime in Burma. These stores should come clean.” Many retailers no longer have the country of origin on their labels, making it impossible for customers to know where the clothes they are buying came from.
The Burma Campaign UK will now be investigating those retailers refusing to disclose their policy more closely, using undercover shoppers and supporters and staff inside companies.

In June 2003 Prime Minister Tony Blair backed calls for British companies to boycott Burma, telling the House of Commons:  “On trade, we are making it clear to British companies that we do not believe that trade is appropriate when the regime continues to suppress the basic human rights of its people.”

The companies named and shamed for refusing to disclose their policy are: Harrods, Bay Trading, By Design Plc, Benetton, Ciro Citteri, Elle, Etam, Intersport, Karen Millen, Liberty, TCS, Animal, Naf Naf, Jo Bloggs, Jeffrey Rogers, Pied a terre, Savoy Tailors Guild, Shellys, Calvin Klein, La Coste, Young Fashion, Great Universal Stores(GUS), Argos Ltd, Claire’s Accessories, MK One, Shoe Box, First Sport, Lillywhites, Hawkshead, Urban Outfitters, Mambo, Mexx, Paul Smith, Reiss, Hobbs, Jane Norman, Miss Sixty, Boxfresh, and LK Bennett.

For more information Mark Farmaner, Media Officer, on 020 7324 4713, or Yvette Mahon, Director of the Burma Campaign UK, on 020 7324 4714


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