From Issue 138 September/October 2012
Tate & Lyle boycott
Human rights campaigners in Asia are calling for a boycott of sugar company Tate & Lyle over land rights abuses in Cambodia. Activists say that sugar produced on land confiscated by the Cambodian government and handed over to plantation owners is being sold by Tate & Lyle in the UK, Europe and US.
A statement recently released by the Stop Blood Sugar campaign states that “In Cambodia today, hundreds of thousands of people are being displaced from their homes, farmlands, forests and fisheries as investors plunder the country for private profit in the name of ‘development’. In rural areas, more than two million hectares have been granted to private companies as concessions for the development of agro-industrial plantations.”
Campaigners say that at least 75,000 hectares of these concessions have been granted for industrial sugar cane production – making it one of the driving forces behind the displacement.
The problems are both social and environmental, with concessions leading to “the destruction of protected forests, the pollution of water sources, and the forced displacement and dispossession of hundreds of families.” And in images reminiscent of the UK’s own Highland Clearances of the
19th century, campaigners add that, “Crops have been razed. Animals have been shot. Homes have been burned to the ground. Thousands of people have been left destitute. Some have been thrown in jail for daring to protest.”
In one such long-running dispute over 200 residents of Chikor Leu commune’s villages claim to have had their lands illegally confiscated and handed over to Koh Kong Sugar Industry Co Ltd (KKS) and Koh Kong Sugar Plantation Co Ltd (KKP). This resulted in wide-spread displacement, severe livelihood impacts, and violent human rights violations. No consultations with the farming communities were conducted and no compensation in advance was made. Campaigners say that these companies are major suppliers to Tate & Lyle.
The campaigners say they are embarking on this consumer action having exhausted all other avenues over a two year period. “We will call off this boycott once Tate & Lyle Sugars and their suppliers KSL, Ve Wong, Ly Yong Phat and Mitr Pohl provide a just remedy to the people who have been harmed by their operations in Cambodia.”
For more information see www.boycottbloodsugar.net
Apple buyers force policy u-turn
On July 3rd, the San Francisco government reluctantly announced that it would have to boycott the company’s products after Apple dropped out of a green product certification scheme.
As part of their procurement policy, all of San Francisco administration’s IT equipment is required to meet with Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) standards (discussed in more detail in issue 129). So on hearing Apple’s decision to leave the scheme they publicly announced they would no-longer be purchasing Macs.
According to the BBC, Apple decided to leave EPEAT after the release of a new laptop which is hard to disassemble and recycle, meaning the device would have been unlikely to secure the scheme’s top rating. Rumours began to spread that many other authorities, including the Federal Government, had embedded EPEAT standards into procurement policies, meaning that no Apple products could be bought.
However Apple had a change of heart within a week. A letter published on the company’s site said “We’ve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system,”
“We recognise that this was a mistake... all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.”
Hyatt Hotels Boycott
As reported in issue 129, a coalition of feminist, labour and equality activists are calling for the boycott of hotel chain Hyatt over the treatment of workers. Campaigners say “Hyatt has abused housekeepers and other hotel workers, replacing long-time employees with minimum wage temporary workers and imposing dangerous workloads on those who remain.
In response, Hyatt workers have taken bold steps to end mistreatment, speaking publicly about abuses, going on strike, and now, launching a global boycott of Hyatt.”
The campaign’s new website is at: www.hyatthurts.org
On July 25th the AFL-CIO (the US equivalent to the TUC) announced that it has officially endorsed UNITE HERE!’s global boycott of Hyatt Hotels. Although most Hyatt properties are subject to this boycott, there are some that are not. The www.unionlabel.org website lists the 20 Hyatt hotels (all in the US) which are exceptions to the boycott call.