Telenor reveals child labourers working for its suppliers in Myanmar

20 August 2014 | Kavit Majithia


Norwegian operator Telenor has reportedly found child labourers working for its suppliers in Myanmar, as it goes through the final motions of building out its national mobile phone network.

Telenor and Qatari operator Ooredoo were selected to deliver mobile services in Myanmar, after the government opened the market to international investment in the telecoms sector.

According to the Financial Times, the company has identified five cases of child labour for young people aged between 12-14, and 19 other instances of teenagers between 15 and 18 working in hazardous conditions on construction jobs.

“Child labour is a real problem in Myanmar,” said Petter Furberg, chief executive of Telenor’s Myanmar’s operations.

Telenor and Ooredoo have been tasked with providing mobile services to 65 million people in Myanmar, with the country’s economy primed for consumer investment.

However, internal political conflicts continue to affect the growth of the country following decades of military rule.

Furberg said many underage workers often earned the most money in the country, but added that Telenor “entered Myanmar with the same standards and requirements as in all the other countries where we are operating”.

Telenor revealed the statistics in its sustainability report, and problems of underage workers came to the fore after it conducted 7,000 health and safety inspections on companies that are building transmission towers.

Within the report, Telenor cited land grabbing and corruption as some of the other hurdles it faces in Myanmar as it prepares to launch its operation this month.

All the underage workers that were identified were removed from building sites, and some teenagers were given office work.

Telenor has not named the suppliers, and Ooredoo has reportedly yet to comment on whether it has taken the same steps with its contractors.

The Qatari operator launched its services in Myanmar earlier this month.