Sunday, 15 July 2012

Transnational corporations to "save" Myanmar workers?

The Toronto Star has a relatively extensive recent article about foreign investment in Myanmar--particularly in extractive industries.  Describing the overwork and low pay of factory workers in the Hlaing Thar Yar industrial zone, the authors of the article cite female factory workers:
The women urged reporters to relay their story to the international community using the few English words they knew: "Save us. Help us."
What specifically these woman were hoping for in their appeal is not made clear.  But the authors of the article seem to believe it was (or should be) transnational corporations:
Help is coming.
With harsh military rule easing and the recent suspension of sanctions by Canada, the United States and the European Union, Western firms are rushing to set up businesses in Burma.  Oil giants Total and Chevron are already here, as are companies from China, the country’s largest outside investor.
The article goes on to quote Canadian Conservative MP Dave Van Kesteren, making a questionable claim about the "social conscience" of Canadian mining corporations:
"Quite frankly, your investment will come where there is a return, and we know extraction is where your greatest return is going to be,” he told human rights committee members. “My suggestion to you is to welcome that, embrace that, especially when it comes from Western countries that have proven they have a strong, what we call, social conscience."
For more information on the "social conscience" of Canadian mining companies, I refer readers to the Toronto-based Mining Injustice Solidarity Network.

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