The French oil company Total says it has reached an out-of-court settlement with eight Burmese villagers who said they were used as forced labor to build a gas pipeline.
In a statement released today, Total denied that it had ever been involved in forced labor, but said it had agreed to create a six-million dollar fund to compensate the villagers.
In addition to individual compensation, the fund will help with humanitarian needs in the area around the Yadana pipeline, including housing health and education.
Total, and its U.S. partner Unocal, have been accused of human rights abuses during the construction of a billion-dollar gas pipeline in Burma in the 1990s. Local residents charge that Burma's military forced them to work on the project.