Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund excludes firm for rights violations in Myanmar

Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund is excluding the Japanese retailer Honeys Holdings “due to the unacceptable risk that the company contributes to systematic violations of human rights” related to two garment factories it owns in Myanmar, media Chief Investment Officer reports.

According to the article, Honeys Holdings is one out of three firms to be excluded from the $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund because of the “unacceptable risk” they contribute to systematic human rights violations. The two other firms include Shapir Engineering and Industry and Mivne Real Estate which has been excluded due to “systematic violations of individuals’ rights in war and conflict related to the building of homes and buildings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”

Honeys Holdings designs, produces and distributes women’s clothes and accessories in Japan and China and according to Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, which manages the country’s sovereign wealth fund, investigations into the factories have raised several red flags.

The council said investigations found several labor rights violations, including harassment of workers and serious violations of fire safety, as well as health and safety regulations. In addition, the company also had underage employees working on the same terms as adults, and employees were being penalized financially for taking sick leave.

According to the Council’s recommendation, “The council considers that Honeys actively restricts workers’ freedom of association, by dismissing trade union leaders and members due to their participation in union activity.”

Honeys Holdings denies a number of the allegations and the company states that certain improvements have been implemented at the factories after the inspections. According to the council, however, follow-up investigations have not corroborated the company’s claims that it has made improvements.

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