Business Respect - CSR Dispatches No#87 - 30 Oct 2005

An email newsletter with news and discussion focusing on corporate social responsibility globally, looking at the companies in the news and the emerging issues. Linked to the website at http://www.businessrespect.net and produced every two weeks.

This web page provides news stories and articles from the newsletters. Newsletters also include links to features on the internet, Mallen's blog, and other resources.

In this issue, we review how Tamiflu maker Roche is coping with the raised expectations on bird flu.

Welcome

Response to last issue's articles about whether or not companies that make products that kill can be ever be socially responsible was more substantial than for any previous article we've carried. Most were very supportive and appreciative, with a few more critical. Thanks for all of those, and apologies that we have not been able to respond to all.

For those of our readers based in the UK who like to explore some of the grey areas, you may be interested in the first Business in the Community marketplace seminar taking place on the morning of 10th November. Covering three themes - corporate lobbying, supporting vulnerable customers, and managing controversy over your products and services - it will cover a lot of interesting ground. You can find details at the address http://www.bitc.org.uk/events/events_calendar/emerging_market.html

Please note - we don't generally cover event details in this newsletter, but we do reserve the right to put in ones that Mallen is directly involved in! So please don't send us event details for listings.

Mallen will be at the BSR conference in Washington next week, and will look forward to meeting any Business Respect readers there. Do feel free if you see him to walk right up and say hi.

Voting on the website has been brisk. The proposition "Companies that make products that kill can be socially responsible" has produced the following views so far.

If they seek to reduce harm and manage their other impacts 142 (35%)
If they diversify out of harmful practices 77 (19%)
Under no circumstances 182 (45%)

Thanks to the 401 people that have voted so far. There is still time to make your views known!

News

Wal-Mart pledges major focus on the environment

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Lee Scott has said that Wal-Mart will now aim to become a 'good steward for the environment' with a target ultimately of using only renewable energy sources and producing zero waste.

McDonald's to include nutrition information on packaging

McDonald's has said that it is to put nutritional information on its food packaging in restaurants in what it describes as a first for the fast food sector.

Oil man indicted over Saddam Hussein kickbacks

Oscar Wyatt Jr has been indicted by a New York federal court on charges of having paid millions of dollars to the Saddam Hussein regime to sell Iraqi oil under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.

Japan: Executives pay the price for unpaid insurance benefits

Senior executives of life insurance company Meiji Yasuda have resigned to take responsibility for a scandal over the firm's failure to pay insurance claims. Company President Ryotaro Kaneko, Chairman Mikihiko Miyamoto and Deputy President Yukichi Ozawa are to step down, although they claim that they had no knowledge of improperly refused payments.

US: Congress shields gunmakers from lawsuits

The US Congress has passed legislation to protect firearms manufacturers from liability lawsuits. The move hands the National Rifle Association its strongest legislative victory for some time.

Botswana: Mining companies accused of flouting ILO conventions

The Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) has said that Debswana and BCL violated International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions in sacking members of the Botswana Mining Worker's Union (BMWU).

Textiles Global Union attacks Chinese social responsibility standard

Neil Kearney, General Secretary of Textiles Global Union, said that the Chinese textiles standard CSC9000T is a watered-down version of an effective multi-stakeholder code, SA8000, which was beginning to have an impact in factories in China. Companies which support this new initiative would, he claimed, be worsening slave-like conditions of many Chinese workers.

The Basel Action Network (BAN) has said that large quantities of obsolete computers and other electronic equipment sent to Nigeria for 're-use and repair' and ending up being dumped creating serious environmental contamination from toxic components.

Austria: Regulators investigate BAWAG loan to Refco boss

The Austrian authorities are reviewing whether a 350m euro loan paid to former Refco chief executive Phillip Bennett was made in breach of proper rules. BAWAG has denied that rules had been broken, although it admitted that management had been at fault in failing to submit the loan to the bank's credit committee.

Details revealed on oil-for-food kickbacks

2,200 companies have been accused of paying $1.8 bn in illicit payments to Saddam Hussein's government as part of the United Nations oil-for-food program by an independent report produced by a UN committee.

Article

If Roche sneezes, the Pharmaceutical Industry catches a cold

Author: Mallen Baker, dated 30 Oct 2005

Some years after the pharmaceutical industry first shot itself squarely in the foot when it tried to sue the South African government, the issue of patents for essential drugs is once again centre stage. This time it is predominantly flu drug Tamiflu maker Roche that has to resolve the dilemmas at the heart of the industry.

Previous edition - No 86 | Following edition - No 88

Subscribe Now

 

The Business Respect email newsletter has been produced since 2001 to give news and commentary on CSR worldwide

 

See the archive of past issues