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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Norway to Wal-Mart: Drop dead.

The Norwegian government has excluded Wal-Mart's stock from its Petroleum Fund — a US$ 240 billion investment fund that pays for health and pension benefits for the country's citizens. According to Norway's finance ministry, Wal-Mart is unsuitable for investment beause of its 'serious/systematic violations of human rights and labour rights.' As a result of that finding, the Petroleum Fund has sold off Wal-Mart stock worth US$ 414 million.

Anti Wal-Mart logoThis action against Wal-Mart is not just political posturing: Norway's oil fund is the largest pension fund in the world, with assets that have a value almost equal to Norway's entire economy — and that more than twice as big as the largest US pension fund, the Californial Public Employees Retirement System. Norway's divestiture of its Wal-Mart holding will most definitely be noticed by managers of other pension funds.

The [finance] ministry said [its ethics council] had found "an extensive body of material" that indicated Wal-Mart had broken norms, including employing minors against international rules, allowing hazardous working conditions at many of its suppliers and blocking workers' efforts to form unions.

It also listed other alleged Wal-Mart abuses including pressuring workers to work overtime without compensation, discriminating against women in pay and blocking "all attempts to unionise".

It said Wal-Mart employees were "in a number of cases unreasonably punished and locked in".

The council's report encompassed Wal-Mart's operations in the United States and Canada and its suppliers in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Lesotho, Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Malawi, Madagascar, Swaziland, Bangladesh, China and Indonesia.

The finance ministry said Norway's central bank, which manages the investment fund, had invited Wal-Mart to comment on the allegations in September, but the company did not respond.

Wal-Mart now joins 18 other companies that have already been excluded from Norway's investment fund for ethical reasons. Companies previously rejected include manufacturers of land mines, cluster bombs, and nuclear weapons. Wal-Mart is apparently the first retailer to be rejected.

Via UK Guardian.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:12 AM | Get permalink




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