COMMUNICATIONS NEWS: Burma Campaign UK to target clothing retailers

KIRSTEN DOWNER

The Burma Campaign UK is planning two large-scale campaigns to turn up the heat on companies following Premier Oil UK's decision last week to pull out of the country.

The pressure group has already written to the chief executives of 100 high-street clothing retailers in the UK asking them to specify their policy on sourcing garments in Burma, and a separate campaign against an as-yet-unnamed British multinational company working there is also planned for next month.

The garment campaign will hinge around a "dirty

and "clean

list of companies based on retailers' responses, said John Jackson, director of the Burma Campaign UK. Those companies refusing to give a commitment not to source from Burma will become the focus of high-profile campaigns aimed at grabbing the attention of the world's media.

"Most responsible retailers, such as BHS, Arcadia, Diesel, H&M, Clarks and Fenwick, already have policies not to source from Burma, and deserve credit for doing so. Even Nike, Adidas and Levi's don't source there,

said Yvette Mahon, co-director of Burma Campaign UK. "Companies still sourcing from Burma are in for a nasty shock."

Swiss company Triumph closed its lingerie factory in Burma in May following a high-profile campaign by Burma Campaign UK using the slogan "Support breasts, not dictators".

The Burma Campaign UK has set a target of December 2003 for "cleaning

the UK high street of clothing sourced from Burma since clothing exports are a key source of income for the regime, according to the Campaign.

Premier Oil denied last week that its decision to pull out was in response to any political pressure. However, the Burma Campaign wrote to US investors in Premier earlier this year warning them that their investments were in danger of breaching both UK company and US government law and, according to Jackson, this was the straw that broke the camel's back.

The campaign to get Premier Oil to pull out of Burma relied principally on media stunts followed up by investor pressure - not one campaign leaflet or poster was ever produced.

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