US - New York City comptroller William C. Thompson is sponsoring resolutions calling for shareholder votes in support of several human rights issues in Indonesia and Colombia on behalf of the city's five pension systems.
The resolutions involve the Indonesian business operations of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, ExxonMobil and Newmont Mining, and Coca-Cola’s business operations in Colombia.
“The New York City pension funds have a long and proud tradition of shareholder activism,” Thompson said.
“Our call for action on these human rights issues in Indonesia and Colombia continues this tradition. Corporations that conduct business in an irresponsible manner – either by polluting the environment, mistreating employees or otherwise violating basic human rights – pose enormous risks to investors.”
The resolutions have been submitted for the vote of shareholders at the various companies’ 2005 meetings. Thompson is the custodian and investment adviser to the board of the Employees’ Retirement System, the Teachers’ Retirement System, the Police pension fund, the Fire department pension fund and the Board of Education Retirement System.
The Freeport McMoRan resolution calls for a review of the company’s policy concerning payments to the Indonesian military and security forces. A similar resolution was also filed with ExxonMobil.
“The actions of Freeport McMoRan and ExxonMobil need to be closely examined for human rights violations,” Thompson said. “The companies’ ties to Indonesian military forces and the alleged human rights abuses are alarming and a cause for concern.”
The city’s Newmont resolution calls for the company’s management to review its policies concerning waste disposal at its mining operations in Indonesia.
“Newmont Mining has already admitted that it released tons of mercury into the air and water over a period of years,” Thompson said. “Now it is time for the company to review what environmental and public health risks its practices may have created.”
Lastly, Coca-Cola has been asked to “fulfil its promise” of sponsoring a delegation of representatives from US and Colombian human rights organisations to examine the charges of collusion in anti-union violence that have been made against officials of Coca-Cola’s bottling plants in Colombia.
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