Asia: Campaign spotlights health dangers to young women promoting major beer brands

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Article
1 August 2006

Campaign by Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) raising health & safety concerns about women promoting beer brands in Asia (especially in Cambodia) & company responses

Author: compiled by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In May 2006, the Australian Council of Trade Unions launched a campaign against multinational beer companies' "exploitation" of young women promoting their brands. The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited each company mentioned in the campaign to respond to the concerns. The companies' responses (or non-responses) are available below. [Companies that responded: Carlsberg, Heineken, InBev (Bass, Beck's, Stella Artois), San Miguel. No response from Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser)]

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Company response
8 June 2006

Response by San Miguel Beer (part of San Miguel Corporation): Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign raises concerns about health & working conditions of "beer promotion women".

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Company non-response
7 June 2006

Anheuser-Busch (part of Anheuser-Busch InBev) did not respond to: Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign raises concerns about health & working conditions of "beer promotion women".

Company response
7 June 2006

Response by Anchor Brewing: Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign raises concerns about health & working conditions of "beer promotion women". [Note: Anchor US confirmed by telephone that they do not market their beer in Cambodia and were...

Company response
7 June 2006

Response by InBev (part of Anheuser-Busch InBev): Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign raises concerns about health & working conditions of "beer promotion women".

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Article
7 June 2006

[DOC] InBev response to Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign

Author: InBev

In the case of Cambodian promotion agents, in 2005 InBev began working with other beer companies, beer distributors and CARE to ensure that beer is sold safely. Although it is still early, this coalition’s efforts are focused on worker safety and salary and benefits. Only by working together as a group are the importer, distributors and local beer companies able to affect change. In addition the work of this coalition, InBev has already insisted that our distributor only hire individuals above the legal working age...

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Article
7 June 2006

[DOC] San Miguel response to Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign

Author: San Miguel

While San Miguel does employ women to promote its beer products, particularly in Vietnam and China where the use of promo girls is common practice in the marketing of alcoholic beverages and cigarette products, we have very strict rules as to the deployment of our promo girls. The girls are deployed in so-called Open Front establishments only -- restaurants and bars that cater to both male and female customers as well as to families...

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Company response
2 June 2006

Carlsberg response to Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign raising concerns about the situation of women promoting beer brands in Asia

Author: Carlsberg

We are aware of the problem of women promoting our beer in Cambodia. We have acquired 50% of Cambrew / Angkor, and we are fully aware of the problems some beer girls face. Therefore we have decided to address the problem and we are doing so in partnership with the Women’s Crisis Centre in Cambodia. The problems these girls face are not aligned with our values at Carlsberg. We will do anything in our power to come out with a solution to this problem in Cambodia.

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Company response
2 June 2006

Heineken response to Australian Council of Trade Unions campaign raising concerns about the situation of women promoting beer brands in Asia

Author: Heineken

Heineken has always taken its responsibilities in relation to promotion women in Cambodia and has always advocated an industry-wide approach for maximum effect...In this context, the picture sketched by Ms Sharan Burrow of ACTU is rather inaccurate or at least unbalanced. In Cambodia promotion women are employed through special agencies and via partners of Heineken. Heineken is responsible for training promotion women in selling our beers in a professional and responsible way, for training promotion women how to deal with clients and for organising a safe working environment...What Heineken offers is fair labour, salary and working conditions, as well as training...Heineken considers this to be a human rights issue and we will continue to act accordingly...With regard to any forced sexual contact, Heineken ensures a safe working environment where these forced contacts cannot take place and we are very much committed to this.

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Article
27 May 2006

New Campaign To Lift Wages and Prevent HIV Deaths Among Beer Promotion Women [Asia]

Author: Australian Council of Trade Unions

...new campaign against the exploitation of young women in promotional campaigns by multinational beer companies...[the] international campaign...highlight[s] the inadequate wages of 'beer girls' & the high rate of HIV infection which is leading to thousands of early deaths among the women...young south east Asian women who are being exploited and subjected to sexual assault and violence while working in restaurants and karaoke bars to promote well-known beer brands including Heineken, Carlsberg, San Miguel, Stella Artois [part of InBev], Beck's [part of InBev], Bass [part of InBev]...and Budweiser [part of Anheuser-Busch]...The women are also subject to appalling assaults and violence...Research...has found that 20% of the female beer promotion women in Cambodia are HIV positive...The women's only chance of survival is for the international beer companies they worked for to step in and provide life-saving anti-retroviral medicines...[there was] an encouraging initial response from...Carlsberg...[also refers to Foster's. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Anheuser-Busch to respond to the allegations but it declined to respond]

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