Swedish union urges FSC to stop certifying Burmese export materials

GS Facket, The Swedish union of forestry, wood and graphical workers, called on the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to stop providing certifications to raw materials exported by Myanmar’s military junta. 

In an open letter to FSC Director General Kim Carstensen, GS President Per-Olof Sjoo and Vice President Madelene Engman, who is also a board member of FS-Sweden, called on FSC to declare Myanmar a “high-risk country” for violating human rights and cease from certifying raw materials that originated from the country. 

The FSC is an international non-profit, multi-stakeholder organisation established in 1993 that promotes responsible management of the world's forests.

GS Facket said that with the deteriorating quality of governance in Myanmar, it cannot be guaranteed anymore if the raw materials it export are still meeting the requirements of the certification system. It called for a new risk assessment of Myanmar given the latest political developments in the country. 

“the FSC must lead by example on this matter. Myanmar has passed the boundaries of acceptable behavior,” the GS letter said. 

Prior to this, last March, the European Commission (EC) imposed sanctions on military-owned companies in Myanmar operating in the timber industry. It took action after BWI and EFBWW sent a letter to Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis expressing concerns that Myanmar’s timber trade provides significant financial support to the military junta. They said that the EC withheld all European development assistance to the Burmese government's reform programs.  All activities that could be seen to legitimise the military coup have also been put on hold by the EC. 

Meanwhile, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) in February released a statement expressing its grave concerns over the political turmoil in Myanmar. It sought assurances from the Myanmar Forest Certification Committee (MFCC - the national member for PEFC in Myanmar) that the rights of workers and trade unions are not being infringed.