Telenor finds child labor at Myanmar BTS sites

Dylan Bushell-Embling
21 Aug 2014

Telenor has disclosed it has found incidents of child labor at its base station construction sites in Myanmar.

In a report on sustainability in Myanmar, the operator revealed that through site inspections, it had discovered five confirmed cases of subcontractors employing children between 12-14 years.

There have been another 14 confirmed cases of underage labor – 15-18 year workers – at construction sites, and another five suspected cases, the report states. The company has taken action on a case-by-case basis.

At one site in Mandalay, three 12-13 year old children were undertaking excavation work. Inspectors immediately removed the children from the site.

At another, a 15-year old son of a worker at the site was carrying out potentially hazardous work. He was removed from the site and given a job in the subcontractor's company office.

While underage labor is prevalent in Myanmar and considered socially acceptable by many locals, Telenor has a policy its contractors must agree to adhere to that states that nobody under 15 will be employed, and nobody under 18 can work at tower construction sites.

The sustainability report also details issues including corruption. It says the company has taken a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, even though this has sometimes slowed down the rollout process.

Another issue Telenor faces with its national rollout is conflict areas with armed ethnic groups, the report says. While there have been bilateral ceasefire agreements with most groups, the situation remains unstable.

To meet the target of achieving 90% population coverage within five years, Telenor has been working with both the government and the ethnic groups in individual states, the company said.

The report confirms that Telenor is on track to launch its Myanmar 3G network in major cities next month.

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