Busting bras for Burma

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BY SEAN HEALY

SYDNEY — Holding signs saying "Support breasts not dictators", 100 supporters of labour rights gathered in front of the Grace Brothers department store in the Pitt Street Mall on August 28 to protest underwear manufacturer Triumph's presence in Burma.

The Swiss-based garment company operates a factory in the Burmese capital Rangoon, on an estate rented from the military.

The Burmese military regime is notorious for its violation of labour and human rights conventions, including suppressing free trade unions and kidnapping, torturing and murdering labour rights advocates.

The crowd, including representatives of several Australian trade unions, the Burmese community and anti-sweatshop group Fairwear, staged a ceremonial cutting up of a Triumph bra (the police would not allow a burning).

Fairwear spokesperson Lisa Wriley told Green Left Weekly that the campaign would next target retailers, including Myers-Grace Brothers, David Jones, K-Mart and Target, seeking to get them to pull Triumph products from their stores.

Triumph issued a statement of the day of the protest, saying that it "does not comment on the political climate in any country where we operate".

Similar campaigning in the United States has had considerable success, with the Sara Lee corporation, which manufacturers Hanes brand T-shirts, announcing plans to pull out of Burma following a concerted campaign by sweatshop opponents. The company is the 16th to pull out of Burma in the last year.

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