Ethical Issues of Unocal Company in Burma

Subject: Business Ethics
Pages: 1
Words: 319
Reading time:
2 min
Study level: College

Burma is a poor Southeast Asian country that attracts loads of potential investors through the newly developed gas field. An American company Unocal founded in 1890, is attracted to the potential profit from the partnership with Burma as well. However, some ethical issues concern the gas policy of the owing country. For example, according to Velasquez (2005), the first reason for Unocal’s interest in this project is the cheap and relatively educated labor. Hence, Burma is a developing country; it is clear that the workers are underpaid because of the low living conditions. The workers are used to low salaries and poverty. Therefore, it is much easier for the government and investors to pay those people less. One more ethical issue is related to the political situation in Burma, as the country’s government is a military dictatorship. Investing in the country’s gas fields means the sponsorship of political arrests, harassment, torture, and the devaluation of human rights. Hence, various organizations, along with Unocal, had to estimate the benefits and challenges that go along with their participation in the gas issue.

The undermining of human rights is the most urgent issue that concerns Burma’s gas fields and related projects such as the construction of the pipeline. Therefore, Velasquez (2005) states that Unocal even hired a human rights consultant to estimate the present situation. And people are mistreated not only in the ways of low salaries but salary delays as well. Some workers even died because of demanding working conditions. However, no compensation was paid to their families. Some employees were forced to work, injured, raped, and subjected to relocation during the fulfillment of the pipeline project (Velasquez, 2005). However, Unocal decided to take part in the action regardless of all the violations happening to Burma’s citizens. It only means that the possible profit is appreciated higher than people’s lives which creates a significant social and ethical dilemma on the subject.


Velasquez, M. (2005). Unocal in Burma. Santa Clara University. Web.