UK/GLOBAL - The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on around 100 UK pension funds to back its stance against human rights abuses in Burma.
The TUC has asked UK shareholders to force US energy company, Unocal, to rethink its stance in the region. It is alleged that Unocal partnered with the Burmese government in a gas field business that hired its security services from the Burmese army. The move is thought to have resulted in the military committing numerous human rights violations, including forced labour.
The move rides on the back of protests by US shareholders in Unocal who have put forward a resolution calling on the firm to adopt a company-wide employee policy based on the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
TUC's policy officer for institutional investment, Tom Powdrill, said that the union had already received a number of responses from UK pension schemes and fund management firms, although the number and nature of these remains undisclosed before Unocal's annual meeting next month.
He added that details of the resolution have also been sent out to its 630-strong trustee network.
Despite many UK investors having only a small holding in the company, the TUC stressed the importance of “global recognition” of “good corporate behaviour”.
Powdrill added: “[There] is no doubt whatsoever that companies can experience problems if they do not pay attention to the social ramifications of the way they operate.
“In the recent past a number of companies have decided that it is not advisable for them or their shareholders if they continue to operate in Burma. By voting for this resolution shareholders can send a clear message to Unocal about their concerns.”
By Madhu Kalia
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