Decision on the sixth item on the agenda: Developments concerning the question of the observance by the Government of Myanmar of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)

Record of decisions | 16 May 2008

Conclusions concerning Myanmar

The Governing Body took note of the information presented and adopted the following conclusions:

The Governing Body considered all the information before it, including the statement made by the Permanent Representative of the Union of Myanmar.

The Governing Body welcomed the extension of the trial period of the operation of the Supplementary Understanding (SU) for a further 12 months as of 26 February 2008. In so doing, it expressed its strong expectation that during this extension period the SU would be applied in full and according to the original intent. This included, in particular: the freedom of complainants to access the complaints mechanism without fear of harassment or reprisal; the need to urgently reproduce the SU in the appropriate local languages and ensure its wide dissemination together with other awareness-raising materials; the freedom of movement of the Liaison Officer to carry out his responsibilities; and the requirement that penalties imposed on the perpetrators of all forms of forced labour were meaningful and enforced.

The Governing Body again called on the authorities of Myanmar at the highest level to make an unambiguous public statement – disseminated in the appropriate local languages – reconfirming the prohibition of any form of forced labour and their ongoing commitment to the enforcement of that policy, including through the application of the SU.

The Governing Body recognized that certain awareness-raising and educational activities had recently taken place. However, it expressed its serious concern at the lack of awareness of both relevant government policy and obligations under Convention No. 29 as evidenced by continuing reports of harassment of persons associated with supporting the operation of the SU. Of particular concern to the Governing Body was the case of U Thet Wai who whilst on bail still had two outstanding charges against him. The Governing Body expected that U Thet Wai and other persons who had been associated with activities against forced labour, in line with the objective of the SU, remain free and experience no further harassment. The Governing Body reaffirmed its call for the immediate release of Su Su Nway and U Min Aung, as well as the six labour activists whose cases were to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Concerning the comments made on freedom of association and the rights of all trade unions, the Governing Body underlined that this had been clearly addressed in the conclusions on Case No. 2591 of the Committee on Freedom of Association, the report of which was adopted at this session of the Governing Body.

The Governing Body drew once again the attention of the Government to its past conclusions and decisions as well as those of the International Labour Conference in the expectation that these matters be efficiently addressed. The Governing Body requested the Liaison Officer to provide an update of the situation to the Committee on the Application of Standards at the 97th Session of the International Labour Conference in connection with its special sitting on the application of Convention No. 29 in Myanmar.

The Governing Body called on the Government to strengthen its cooperation with the ILO, and in particular with the Liaison Officer, to ensure the effective operation of the SU and the implementation of the obligations under Convention No. 29 to prohibit the use of forced labour as well as the recruitment of minors into the military.

(GB.301/6/1; GB.301/6/2 and GB.301/6/3.)