End Evil

Welcome to the blacklist, below you will find a list of companies you should never buy products from and plenty of reasons why. There are also links to more detailed information and lists of known subsidiaries. Bookmark the Blacklist

Nestle

Nestle have been repeatedly criticised and widely boycotted in a number of countries because of their violation of international codes on the marketing of baby milk products. Nestle holds about 50% of the world's breast milk substitute market and is being boycotted for continued breaches of the 1981 WHO (World Health Organisation) Code regulating the marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Nestle encourages bottle feeding primarily by either giving away free samples of baby milk to hospitals, or neglecting to collect payments. It has been criticised for misinforming mothers and health workers in promotional literature. Nestle implies that malnourished mothers, and mothers of twins and premature babies are unable to breastfeed, despite health organisations claims that there is no evidence to support this.

Evidence of direct advertising to mothers has been found in over twenty countries such as South Africa and Thailand. Instructions and health warnings on packaging are often either absent, not prominently displayed or in an inappropriate language. All of these actions directly contravene the Code regulating the marketing of baby milk formulas.

Even in the UK, bottle-fed babies are up to ten times more likely to develop gastro intestinal infections, but in the Third World, where clean water may be absent, mothers may be illiterate and independent health care and advice may be lacking, bottle feeding can be more dangerous. This can lead to a situation where babies are left vulnerable to dysentery, malnutrition and death, and Nestle is able to retain its estimated $4 billion market share in the baby-milk industry.

Over 3000 infants die every day from baby bottle disease (WHO), and formula dependant babies create massive economic strain on poor families, contributing to unsustainable land use.

Nestle were recently criticised by Oxfam for pursuing the Ethiopian Government for US $6 million as the country attempts to tackle a famine affecting 11 million people.This payment was so large because they demanded it in US dollars not local currency at the current rate of exchange not that of 1975 .Nestle did not even own the company when the factory was nationalised. Nestle has finally accepted US $1.51 million offered by the government on 23/1/3 following the campaign run by Oxfam which created a public relations nightmare.

The workers in a Nestle chocolate plant in Cacapava, Brazil went on strike in 1989, complaining of poor working conditions, including discrimination against women, lack of protective clothing and inadequate safety conditions. Within two months of the beginning of the strike the company had sacked forty of its workers, including most of the strike organisers.

Nestle has subsidiaries in some of the most repressive regimes in the world, including China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Turkey. The company also has subsidiaries in South Africa which it owned during the Apartheid year. L´Oreal (parent company - Nestle) have subsidiaries in Peru and Morocco.

Sources
Mcspotlight
Baby Milk Action Charity
Make Trade Fair

Known Aliases - Nestle owned products to avoid include L'Oreal, Cross and Blackwell, Branston, Ski, Munch Bunch, Buitoni, Vittel, Perrier, Herta, Purina, Allenis, Maggi, Peter's, Milo, Carnation, Caterer's Blend, GoDog, Lean Cuisine, Sunshine, Rowntrees, Breath Fresh, Quik Eze, Scanlens, Nesquik, Vitari, Nescafe, GoPet, International Roast, Medallion, Papa Guiseppi's, Chapstick, Dermoplast, Mighty Dog, and a frightening number of chocolate bars.

Return to Top

Coca-Cola

The US-based International Labour Rights Fund, and the US United Steelworkers filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola accusing its franchised bottle plant in Colombia of using paramilitaries to suppress union activity. In the still-unresolved case, Coca-Cola said it could not be held responsible because the plants were not directly under its control.The lawsuit filed in Miami in 2001 alleged that the company "maintains open relations with murderous death squads as part of a program to intimidate trade union leaders."

Corporate Influence Under a contract signed in 1997, the Colorado Springs school district will receive $8.4 million over ten years to sell a requirement of 70,000 cases of Coke products a year. The company urged school administrators to increase sales of Coke products by allowing better and unlimited access to machines and by allowing students to drink in classrooms. The company said it planned to spread this model throughout America. Will the UK be next?

In November 2000, Coca-Cola settled a class-action lawsuit by paying a record $192.5 million in settlements. The company was charged with racial discrimination, allegedly denying African Americans adequate pay, promotions, and performance evaluations. The lawsuit was filed by four past and current employees, ranging from a security guard to a former executive, on behalf of as many as 2,000 black employees who currently work for or have had salaried positions at Coca-Cola throughout the United States since April 1985. The plaintiffs claimed that Coca-Cola paid its average black employee nearly $27,000 a year less than its average white employee and limited black workers´ chances for promotion. In 2001, while Coca-Cola´s shares fell 23%, CEO Douglas Daft´s pay and bonus increased 17%, and he was given stock options worth up to $45.7 million and restricted stock work $47.9 million.

In 1989 Kolody pitched Coke´s ad agency a concept that involved a graphic collusion of Coca-Cola and automobile memorabilia. Kolody heard nothing back from Coke but nine months he discovered that aspects of his campaign were being disseminated through Coke´s new Cherry Coke can designs. When Kolody attempted to discuss the matter with the agency's executives he was rebuffed and they claimed to have lost his story-boards. Even more interesting is that at the same time, Coke failed to renew their copyright on a very famous image that appeared on their first soda can in 1961: the ´contour bottle on the Coca-Cola can´ image. When Coke failed to renew the 1961 copyright , Kolody became the de facto rights holder because he had created a derivative work of the image for his pitch with the agency.

In 1993, Coke resurrected the "contour bottle" image for their Classic Coke cans and filed a fraudulent copyright application in order to protect it. A fundamental precept of intellectual property law stipulates that an entity is not allowed to file for a copyright on an image that has already been published and then released into the public domain or adopted by someone else. In the case of the 'contour bottle', Coke either forgot to renew their copyright or did not understand the law. When they re-filed in 1993, the copyright office warned them that to file for a copyright which has already been published is fraud. Coke went ahead and did it anyway! The Case is presently under appeal ,with allegations of bribery and corruption.

Sources
Responsible Shopper
CocaKarma GNN
Coke Watch
Mulinational Monitor, Dec. 2001

Return to Top

McDonalds

The vast majority of workers at McDonald´s lack full-time employment, do not have any benefits, have no or little control over their workplace, and quit after a few months. McDonald´s jobs have been purposely de-skilled so as to be able to hire minimum wage workers on an interchangeable basis. One-third of fast food workers speaks no English. McDonald´s and other chains are aiming for automated equipment that will require zero training and are nearly there. Nevertheless, they fight hard to retain hundreds of millions of dollars of government subsidies for "training" their workers. Turnover is 3-400% a year.

Not one worker at McDonald´s belongs to a union.The only time a restaurant was unionized recently was in 1997 in Montreal. The restaurant was closed just before the union was certified.

In the 1990 McLibel case, McDonalds were found to "exploit children", be "culpably responsible for animal cruelty", and have "advertisements, promotions and booklets which have pretended to a positive nutritional benefit which their food did not match". Its record of labour, working conditions, unionism and pay was criticised.

The biggest seller of Coke is McDonald's. Americans alone drink 56 gallons of soda per year. Coke wants to increase consumption of its products by 25% a year by focusing more on children since the adult market is stagnant.

Every time you eat a hamburger, you are eating anabolic steroids, antibiotics, and fecal matter. You can read it again. And it will still be true. You are better off eating a carrot dropped in your toilet than eating one dropped in your kitchen sink if you buy and use packaged meat.

Feedlot cattle are also given shredded packaging, cardboard boxes, cement, and sawdust to put on weight.

Cattle that go into hamburgers drink dirty swill water and dirty food. Until 1997, they were fed millions of dead cats and dogs purchased from animal shelters. They still eat dead pigs, horses, and poultry. (And chickens are fed dead cattle).

Cattle are also fed chicken manure, which may contain tapeworms, Giardia, antibiotic residues, arsenic and heavy metals. Federal inspectors report that animals that are visibly diseased, cattle infected with measles, tapeworms, and covered with abscesses are slaughtered and processed into meat. This is why the industry and the USDA are pushing meat irradiation rather then safety, health, and inspections as a solution.

One-fourth of the cows slaughtered is worn-out dairy cattle, animals most likely to be riddled with diseases, cancers, and antibiotic residues. McDonald´s relies heavily on old dairy cows because they are lower in fat, cheaper, and allow them to say all their meat is raised in the US.(Source - Food First)

Sources
Food First
McSpotlight
Fast Food Nation


Return to Top

Proctor and Gamble

During the boycott of South Africa in the apartheid years, Procter & Gamble maintained their licensing agreement . Procter & Gamble today operate in the following repressive regimes; Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines and Turkey.

At the end of 1991 the company was criticised for continuing to pollute the Fenholloway River with up to 50 million gallons of waste water each day from its cellulose plant in Florida. Fish in the river were being contaminated with dioxin, and water wells in the vicinity were allegedly unsafe to use. Amazingly, all this pollution was within legal limits but state officials are said to be reviewing P&G's permit at the plant.

They have been frequently accused of uneccesary testing on animals. Total animal use is estimated at about 50,000 per year.In many cases human data on the substance is already available .

Sources
The Ethical Consumer Guide to Everyday Shopping published by the Ethical Consumer Research Association.

Known Aliases - Max Factor, Clarion, Colorfast, Cover Girl, Mary Quant, Maxi, Outdoor Girl , Luvs (nappies), Pampers, Step by Step , Always , Head & Shoulders, Vidal Sassoon, Clearsil, Fairy, Zest , Crest , Ariel, Bold, Daz, Dreft, Fairy, Tide, Bounce, Downy, Cheer, Dash, Era, Gain, Ivory Snow, Oxydol, Tide . Fairy , Head & Shoulders, Ivory, Pantene, Pert Plus, Prell, Vidal Sassoon, (Vicks range) Chloraseptic, Cough Drops, DayQuil, Inhaler, NyQuil, Sinex, VapoRub, VapoSteam, Vicks 44, Vitamin C Drops



Return to Top

Unilever

Unilever is an Anglo-Dutch company with subsidiaries in many countries with repressive regimes, for example South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Uganda.They have been criticised for repressive treatment of workers, and much of Unilever's profits come from unfairly traded commodities ( tea, coffee and vegetable oils).

They are of course huge producers of soaps and detergents, and have been held responsible for a number of serious cases of water pollution. For example in 1990, Crosfield Chemicals, was fined £35,000 after leaking fifty tonnes of concentrated sulphuric acid into sewage systems in Warrington. Also, in 1991, the River Purification Board of Scotland found that the company had exceeded its discharge consent by three or more times; the company was convicted for water pollution offences.

They have been criticised for unnecessary testing of cosmetics on animals and accused of making misleading remarks with regard to their stance on the issue of genetic engineering by claiming the company 'takes a positive view of genetic engineering'. The company, in fact, does not have an overall stance on genetic engineering, but takes a country by country decision, so Unilever Germany does not currently use genetically engineered products while others do.

They were accused of negligent marketing after advertising a free offer of multivitamins (including Vitamin A) with their pregnancy testing kits after the Department of Health advised pregnant women to avoid taking dietary supplements containing vitamin A because of the risk of birth defects.

Sources
The Ethical Consumer Guide to Everyday Shopping published by the Ethical Consumer Research Association.

Known Aliases - Dove, Lyptons tea, Bertolli, Hellmann's, Knorr, Ragú, Birds Eye, Findus, Magnum Solero, I Can't Believe it's not Butter, Domestos, Cif, Comfort, Impulse, Organics, SunSilk, Lux, Slim·Fast, Signal, Calvin Klein- fragrance



Return to Top

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is a massive company generating sales worth $138 billion making it the biggest retailer in the world. Wal-Mart has been accused of destroying the economies of small towns in the USA, abusing the rights of its workers in developing countries and arming impressionable American teenagers. The company is the biggest employer in the USA and has often been accused of violating international labour rights.

They have achieved market saturation in North America and can only expand their empire by moving into Europe and other "new" markets. In June 1999 they bought Asda (which was the third biggest supermarket chain in the UK) for £6.7 billion. Sadly the Asda chain was a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, but will now be sourcing many of its goods through Wal-Mart´s international product chain. Wal-Mart has its own "voluntary code", written in 1992. It isn´t monitored by reputable and independent labour-rights groups, but by its own "exclusive buying agents". The code allows Wal-Mart to use products made by children of 14 or 15, but "prefers" that they work no longer than sixty hours a week.

Wal-Mart, as the USA´s biggest retailer, is also its biggest gun-seller. Campaigners for tighter gun-control laws accuse Wal-Mart of marketing firearms irresponsibly and being too lax in selling weapons to teenagers. When rock star Sheryl Crow alluded to this on a recent record, Wal-Mart magnanimously banned it from their 2500 stores.

They have also been accused of attempting to desecrate ancient burial sites. Wal-Mart wants to build a store on top of a Native American cemetery in Tennessee. The Native Americans´ descendants are naturally furious about the plan.

Wal-Mart also sells sweat shop-produced goods often the product of child labour. They are one of 17 retailers facing a £660 million action in the US courts brought by garment manufacturers in the US Pacific protectorate of Saipan. They allege they suffered beatings, forced abortion and vermin-infested quarters in the employ of Wal-Mart´s supplier. Wal-Mart denies the charge. Another PR debacle for Wal-Mart saw daytime TV celebrity Kathy Lee Gifford remove her name from a range of Wal-Mart´s clothes when US labour activists discovered the garments were made in a sweat shop in Honduras.

Wal-Mart has long pursued a policy of targeting small town USA. They are able to create monopolies by introducing artificially low prices which put the competition out of business; this leaves them free to increase the price again. Despite the homely and family image they have spent so much hard-earned cash cultivating this is in fact a faceless behemoth of an organisation which routinely supplants small locally owned businesses. The jobs "created" by Wal-Mart pay minimum wage and the vast profits are sent elsewhere, impoverishing the local economy.

Sources
Corporate Watch

P. Smith

Known Aliases - Asda



Return to Top

Glaxo Smithkline

In January 2000, Glaxo Wellcome announced a merger with SmithKline Beecham making them the biggest company in the UK, and one of the world´s leading pharmaceutical companies, controlling approximately 7.4% of the market.

Between 1946 and 1988 Glaxo made and sold a spinal x-ray contrast medium called Myodil. Injected into the spinal canal in order to show up problems on x-rays, the drug was sold in approximately fifty countries including the UK. Myodil has been shown to cause a disease called Adhesive Arachnoiditis - A disease which causes severe pain to the sufferer via untreatable and incurable inflammation and nerve atrophy.

Glaxo must have known that Myodil was toxic when it was first released onto the market in 1946, as by that time many studies had already been published which showed the potential for harm.

Glaxo was able to build connections with Public Health Authorities, partly by employing government staff who had connections and influence in Public Health Departments. By the end of the war their factories were producing 90% of the UK´s supply of new drugs.

On the 19th September 1988 Glaxo notified the Department of Health that Myodil was to be discontinued in the UK for commercial reasons, but they wished to retain the product licence issued in June 1987 as the product was not being discontinued worldwide. Myodil is thus still manufactured and sold overseas - it has found new markets in countries that are vulnerable to the marketing strategy that made Glaxo one of the largest pharmaceutical companies.

Glaxo has always maintained that the links between Myodil and adhesive arachnoiditis have not been proven. But in an out of court settlement in 1995, whilst denying liability Glaxo Laboratories Limited paid out, on average, £16,000 to each of 425 claimants suffering from Myodil Adhesive Arachnoiditis. A further 3,000 claimants had to withdraw because of what many of them felt to be Glaxo´s solicitors´ bullying tactics. Settling out of court meant that Glaxo effectively closed the door on any further litigation in the UK.

GlaxoSmithKline´s corporate motto is "committed to improving the quality of human life!"

Unfortunately, it does not live up to this motto. GSK
- sued the South African Government for trying to supply AIDS victims with medicine they can afford
- knowingly produces toxic drugs and
- emitts more carcinogens than almost any other chemical producer in the UK

GSK´s chemical plant in Ulverston is one of the most carcinogenic polluters in the UK. This one site emitted 773 tonnes of carcinogens in 2001, 10 per cent of the national total.

The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of the American Medical Association accused the drug giants of using their money to prevent academic researchers reporting freely and fairly on the results of drug trials.

In 2001, GlaxoSmithKline had sales totalling £20.5 billion, and before tax profits of £6.2 billion.

Sources
Corporate Watch
Factory Watch

Return to Top

Bacardi

Bacardi plays on its Cuban roots, misleading drinkers into believing that Bacardi still has some links with the island. The unfortunate truth is that the Bacardi empire :-

1) is based in the Bahamas

2) broke all ties with Cuba after the popular guerrilla movement led by Fidel Castro and "Che" Guevara led to the Revolution of 1959 which removed the evil Batista dictatorship.

3) has, since the Revolution, backed illegal and violent attempts to undermine the Cuban Revolution, including funding the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), an anti-Castro right-wing exile organisation based in Miami, which has been responsible for systematic acts of terrorism against Cuba.

4) Bacardi´s lawyers also helped draft the US Helms-Burton Act, which extends the United States’ blockade of Cuba to third countries, in breach of international trade law. US Senator William Dengue said the law should be renamed the Helms-Bacardi Protection Act. The blockade prevents the sale of food, medicines and other essential supplies to Cuba and threatens other countries (including Britain) if they trade with Cuba. It has been estimated that the blockade has cost Cuba over $40 billion in lost production and trade.

5) Every year the US blockade is overwhelmingly condemned by the United Nations for causing severe shortages and suffering among the Cuban people. The American Association for World Health (AAWH) reported in 1997 that the US blockade is contributing to malnutrition and poor water quality in Cuba and that Cuba is being denied access to drugs and medical equipment which is causing patients, including children, to suffer unnecessary pain and to die needlessly. The AAWH concluded that a humanitarian catastrophe had been averted only because the Cuban government has maintained a high priority for a system designed to deliver primary and preventive care to all its citizens. It is worth recording that, despite the effects of the blockade, Cuba last year received a World Health Organisation (WHO) award for meeting all the WHO targets for all countries by the year 2000 – the only country so far to have done so.

6) In 1996, Bacardi started illegally marketing its own Havana Club Rum. Pernod Ricard sued. But, thanks to a section 211 (added to the 96 US budget after frantic lobbying by Bacardi’s lawyers) Bacardi won. Section 211 arbitrarily stipulates that no court in the USA may recognise or in any way validate any claim regarding trademarks and commercial names related to properties "confiscated" by the Cuban government. Bacardi claims Havana Club uses former Bacardi assets nationalised by Cuba in 1960. Section 211 contravenes international trade law, and Pernod Ricard is taking the case to the World Trade Organisation.



Return to Top

Exxon/Esso

ExxonMobil (Esso) has been increasing its greenhouse gas emissions since the USA refused to ratify Kyoto. They now produce more than twice the CO2 pollution of countries such as Norway.

Last year their CO2 emissions increased by 2% to 135.6m tonnes, and profits rose to $17bn (£9.4bn), the largest ever in the corporate world. Their emissions are more than 50% higher than those BP, but their production is only slightly larger.

BP - 83.3m tonnes of greenhouse gases for 3.8m barrels of oil and gas per day
Exxon - 135.6m tonnes for 4.4m barrels a day

Some experts (e.g. the Climate Mitigation Services of Colorado) have alleged that Exxon's figures are underestimated, and the true total is nearer 379m tonnes.

Exxon have admitted that they have no targets for reductions in CO2 emissions although he insisted that it was working hard on "energy efficiency" gains.

Exxon state;
"Like many other companies, we do not believe Kyoto is the right approach. We fear it would impose dramatic economic costs in the developed world, while doing little to achieve its goal of addressing climate change since developing nations, which require most of the world´s increased needs for energy to grow their economies, have no comparable commitments,"

However, this does not explain why they are so much worse than other companies. One reason is that they indulge in gas flaring in Nigeria. This is when natural gas is brought out of the ground with the oil, but burned off immediately. The company admits to burning nearly 600m cubic feet of gas in 2003 (up from 450m in 2002). Attempts were first made to outlaw this practice in 1969!

"Flaring [in Nigeria] is the biggest source of greenhouse gas production in sub-Saharan Africa. It is a breach of human rights and something that is not allowed in this country (US),"

(Peter Roderick, director of the Climate Justice Programme -a group of NGO´s and lawyers arguing for a reduction in emissions).

Exxon says it will start to eliminate flaring from 2006. They argue that this is ahead of the latest Nigerian government targets.

Global Warming
Source
The Guardian

Return to Top

Shell hell

On November 10, 1995, after 17 months in custody, and a trial that was universally condemned as being a sham, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists were hanged in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Their only crime was their success in exposing the Shell Petroleum Company´s role in destroying their land, their society, and their people.

Shell´s operations in Nigeria led to pollution levels that are 700 times higher than those allowed in Europe. In Ogoni levels of hydrocarbon pollution in drinking water were 360 times higher than European standards. Despite repeated categorical denials, Shell now reluctantly and with qualification admits to both paying the military and importing weapons. Two of the prosecution witnesses at Saro-Wiwa´s trial have subsequently signed sworn statements indicating that they were bribed by both the Nigerian military and Shell to testify against Saro-Wiwa.

Shell are also pressuring the traditional U´wa community of Colombia in order to exploit the enormous Samore oil province there. The environmental risk is huge. At the Cano Limon pump station operated nearby in Colombia by Oxy and Shell, some 1.5 million barrels of crude have been spilt into the rainforest in the last decade (Exxon Valdez was only 36,000 barrels). Much of this was due to sabotage by guerrillas who represent another major threat to the U´wa. In response Oxy and Shell pay a war tax of US$1 per barrel - US$180,000 a day - to the Colombian military to protect their installations at Cano Limon. The Colombian military is known for its human rights abuses, and militarizing the U´wa territory will introduce organized violence into the area.

Although Shell has been operating in Peru for less than one year the company has already broken promises to respect indigenous rights, consult with communities, and operate to the highest environmental standards. Within a month, the company may start drilling inside a reserve for the nomadic and uncontacted Nahua and Kugapakori peoples. In the mid-1980´s during Shell's early exploration activities, dozens of Nahua died after being exposed to outside diseases. In other areas throughout their Peruvian concession they have begun operations before consulting affected communities. Finally Shell has already begun dumping toxic waters into the fragile Amazon ecosystem.

Global Warming
Source
Project Underground

Return to Top

Balfour Beatty

Balfour Beatty was the construction company involved in the Honiton-Exeter A30 road - a site of protester evictions. (The company specialises in "privatised" roads, having built four Design-Build-Finance-Operate roads in the UK so far.) Or, going back a few years, you might remember the name Balfour Beatty linked with the Pergau dam scandal, where British aid lubricated arms deals with Malaysia.

The UK construction company is part of a consortium contracted to build another dam - at least as scandalous as Pergau. And yes, the project is backed yet again by British taxpayers´ money. It´s called the Ilisu dam, to be built imminently in South-East Turkey - better known to some as Kurdistan.

Even the usually dodgy World Bank won´t touch this project. The Ilisu dam would affect some 36,000 Kurdish people - flooding their homes and lands. This is very convenient for the Turkish government, which is waging a not-so-secret war against the Kurdish people. A human rights delegation which visited the area in September last year found a widespread perception that the Ilisu dam is motivated primarily by a desire to destroy the Kurds as an ethnic group. The ongoing destruction of Kurdish homes and villages, the destruction of centuries-old social and familial networks and the shepherding of Kurds into planned urban enclaves, all contribute to the forced assimilation of Kurds into the Turkish state.

In February 1999, Balfour Beatty was fined a record £1.2 million over health and safety breaches during its construction of a new rail link to Heathrow airport. The fine was the highest ever meted out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for incidents involving no loss of life. The judge called the incident "one of the worst civil engineering disasters in the United Kingdom in the last quarter of a century. It is a matter of chance whether death or any serious injury resulted from these very serious breaches." Balfour Beatty was one of two companies contracted to construct tunnels for the £550 million Heathrow rail link. One of the tunnels collapsed in October 1994, crushing the Underground Piccadilly Line and leaving a crater that dragged down car parks and shook buildings. The cancellation of flights alone caused by the accident cost British Airways some £50 million. Only a month later, in March 1999, Balfour Beatty was again fined by the HSE - this time £0.5 million for health and safety breaches that caused a train to derail between Witham and Kelvedon in 1997. The judge in this case said: "A very substantial risk to the public was caused." The judge said he would have imposed a larger fine, but for, among other things, the company´s good record.

It´s hard to understand how the judge gained this impression. In the previous eight years, Balfour Beatty had been repeatedly fined in cases involving the death of several workers. In 1993, the company was fined £17,500 by the HSE for breaching safety rules at its Derbyshire foundry, where a worker was crushed to death. But by far the most serious incidents occurred during the construction of the Channel Tunnel. Balfour Beatty was one of five UK companies contracted to build the tunnel. All five were found guilty of failing to ensure the safety of seven workers who were killed during the construction period. Each of the contractors was fined between £40,000 and £125,000. In one case the prosecutor claimed that the breaches were a continuing danger which the contractors had done nothing to prevent. Commenting on the circumstances surrounding the death of a 26-year-old worker, the judge said: "The failure in this case is one of the worst this court has heard about in the past years. This accident happened because the safety procedures in place were not properly supervised and carried out."

In recent years Balfour Beatty has transformed itself into one of "new" Labour´s favourite companies. One of its executives, Martin Print, was seconded to the Department of Trade and Industry´s "innovation unit" as soon as Labour won the general election. Two other Balfour Beatty staff, Colin Ostler and Alastair Kennedy, have accompanied construction minister Nick Raynsford on jaunts to Jordan, Egypt and the Philippines.

Sir Malcolm Bates, architect of the private finance initiative (PFI) and one of Blair's heroes, was chosen by the government this year as the ideal man to chair London Transport. Until his appointment he was a director of BICC - the parent company of Balfour Beatty. Balfour Beatty's political lobbying is conducted by GJW Government Relations, which employs such luminaries as Karl Milner, formerly an adviser to Gordon Brown, and Roger Sharp, who previously worked in Labour´s "business unit". GJW is one of Labour's most loyal sponsors, and has regularly booked tables at the party´s "gala fund-raising dinners".

Source
Corporate Watch

Return to Top