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Boycott threat over Burma
>From AFP

A US human rights group has warned that certain US apparel companies will
soon be hit with a boycott unless they pull out of Burma, where it says a
military dictatorship has imposed "a regime of terror". 

The National Labor Committee, at a press conference in Washington this week,
also denounced what it described as gross violations of workers' rights at
plants in El Salvador doing contract work for US companies Nike and Liz

"Once again, this time in Burma, we see US apparel companies and retailers
tragically on the wrong side of human rights and democracy, choosing instead
to side with and prop up the vicious Burmese military dictators," NLC
director Charles Kernaghan charged. 

He said US apparel imports from Burma, assembled by workers who earn US4c an
hour, increased 43 per cent in the first six months of 1998 compared with
the same period last year. 

As a result, certain US apparel firms doing business in the country would
soon be targeted in a nationwide consumer boycott. 

US retailers Bradlees, JC Penny, Sears and Marshalls sell clothes made in
Burma and apparel companies such as Fashion Knitwear Group, Arrow Shirt and
Karl Kani import clothing made there, according to the NLC. 

"We will ask consumers to shop with their conscience during the holiday
season and help restore democracy and respect for human rights to the 49
million people in Burma who are suffering under a regime of terror," Mr
Kernaghan said. The NLC also pointed to reports of worker abuse at the
Formosa factory in San Bartolo, El Salvador, which makes apparel for Nike,
Adidas and other companies. 

Nike spokeswoman Maria Eitel, responding to the charges, stressed that the
company had "zero tolerance for any sort of abuse of our workers" and in the
past had punished factories that violated its code of conduct. 

At three plants in El Salvador operated by the South Korean-owned company Do
All, workers sew clothing under contract for Liz Claiborne for US60c an
hour, well below subsistence levels, according to the National Labor

Workers are forced to put in overtime, employees who become pregnant are
fired and "at least five (union) organising drives . . . have been crushed
with illegal firings", the committee charged. 

A Liz Claiborne statement said "parts of the National Labor Committee's
report are either incorrect or exaggerated".