Boycott news from Ethical Consumer magazine, Issue 157 Nov/Dec 2015
US Fruit Boycott
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel
Amazon boycott update
A number of campaigners, including Ethical Consumer, are now reiterating their calls to boycott dairy products as part of the wider campaign to stop the badger cull.
- Animal Aid is calling for a boycott of all dairy products.
- The Save Me campaign founder, Brian May, is calling for a boycott of milk products from the cull zones.
- Stop the Cull is calling for a milk boycott of Sainsbury’s. It is choosing to focus on Sainsbury’s to get the issue onto the high street. It is not calling for a boycott of all dairy products from the cull zones.
- Viva! is also running a UK-wide dairy boycott as an attempt to save badgers.
In addition, campaign group Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting lists business and tourist firms to buy from that are ‘badger friendly’.
Find out more about our Badger campaign and see how you take action against the cull.
Farm workers in the US and Mexico have called for a boycott of popular US brands Driscoll’s and Sakuma over working conditions on farms.
Driscoll’s has been described as “U.S.’s most recognisable brand name” on both conventional and organic berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
The Sakuma brand is sold all over the world and is also a supplier to Driscoll’s.
Thousands of farm labourers supplying Driscoll’s stopped work for nearly two weeks in April, demanding a number of concessions including higher wages and legally required benefits.
The independent union Families United for Justice is now asking that Driscoll’s and Sakuma recognise it as the representatives of the farm workers and negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. Until this happens and a deal can be reached it demands that Driscoll’s stop selling Sakuma berries under their label.
The striking pickers earned $7 to $8 a day before the strike.
Protests have taken place throughout the summer as campaigners aim to raise the profile of the campaign and take protests to the high street. Actions included protests in stores selling the branded berries, and roadside vigils.
Long running boycott target Ahava subject of takeover bid
Campaigners have hailed as a victory the news that Israeli cosmetics maker Ahava has announced a deal to sell a majority stake to the Chinese investment company Fosun.
The Electronic Intifada campaigning news website believed that the buyer is to take at least a 51% stake in Ahava. The deal values the company, which has recently shed a quarter of its workforce, at about $76 million.
Campaigners say the news signals that Ahava’s brand has been damaged by what they say is complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
“This signifies that Ahava’s brand was so tainted, because of the prolonged international boycott campaign against it, that it was unable to find investors in the United States or Europe,” Nancy Kricorian, manager of CODEPINK’s Stolen Beauty boycott campaign, told The Electronic Intifada.
“So it had to turn to China, where the boycott in support of Palestinian rights has not yet gained the same traction it has in other places,” Kricorian added.
However Kricorian remains cautious. “We are waiting for the details of the final deal to be announced,” she said. “Will Fosun move Ahava’s factory out of the occupied West Bank? Will Fosun buy the entire stake or will two illegal settlements – Mitzpe Shalem and Kalia – remain co-owners of the enterprise? Will Fosun put an end to the company’s pillaging of mud from occupied shores?”
Luxembourg’s largest retailer boycotts Israeli fruit and veg
The largest chain of food stores in Luxembourg, Cactus, is to stop selling fruit and veg from Israel, until receiving verification that they are not sourced from Israeli settlements built on Palestinian occupied territories.
Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper said that Cactus had bowed to pro-Palestinian pressure from the organisation Just Peace in the Middle East, which has organised protests outside stores for months to put pressure on the retail chain.
The decision was made in order to avoid more protests outside its branches.
Amazon’s working practices slammed by New York Times
In August, a report in the New York Times exposed the harsh working conditions endured by management and office workers at Amazon.
It described Amazon as, “conducting a little-known experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers, redrawing the boundaries of what is acceptable.”
One former employee who spoke to the NYT, Bo Olson, who lasted less than two years in a book-marketing role, said that his “enduring image was watching people weep in the office”, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he told the NYT. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
An example of how this culture is manifest is given in an internal phone directory which “instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses.” This is apparently used to sabotage co-workers. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)
Most alarmingly, according to the report “some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover.”
This control comes from the very top with CEO Jeff Bezos recently telling Business Insider “My main job today: I work hard at helping to maintain the culture.”
Criticised over sale of ‘rape books’
In August a petition was launched urging Amazon to stop selling books written by a controversial blogger who had called for rape committed in a private place to be legalised.
The anti-feminist blogger Daryush Valizadeh, or ‘Roosh V’ online, has allegedly shared tips on how to ‘pick-up’ women such as “stop asking for permission”. In his self-published books he gives men advice on how to have more sex with women in different countries.
One of Valizadeh’s blog posts in February was widely condemned for advocating the legalisation of rape in order to force women to take responsibility for their security and events “that are easily preventable”. He also argued that women should be made responsible for ensuring they were not raped, instead of teaching men not to rape.
By the end of September, 220,678 people had signed a Change.org petition urging Amazon to pull his “rape books” from the site, which were described as a “thinly veiled” guide to getting away with sexual assault.
The author of the petition, Caroline Charles, has called for a boycott of Amazon until the books are pulled.
Amazon pulls anti-Israel products
In September, Amazon ceased selling a line of products featuring a blood-stained Israeli flag after complaints from the Israeli government, the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish community leaders.1
According to US TV news channel WPTV, a number of products that featured a blood stained Israeli flag including shower curtains, doormats, pillow covers, umbrellas, phone cases, and mouse pads were available for purchase through third-party sellers on Amazon.com for a limited time before the web page they were sold on was no longer available.
Disgraced ex-BBC presenter set for Amazon Prime
Amazon have hired disgraced former BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson to head up a new motoring show that will feature on the companies streaming service Amazon Prime.
In an interview with The Times, co-presenter Richard Hammond said about Amazon, “They’re not going to interfere. They want us doing what we do.”
Amazon has allegedly paid around £160 million to secure the show.
Amazon appoints CSR chief
Amazon has finally appointed a director of social responsibility.
Christine Bader, who worked on social responsibility issues for BP, takes up the position as the company faces a barrage of complaints regarding its environmental and social conduct.
“We have experienced heartache and disillusionment,” Bader wrote in her book ’A Manifesto for the Corporate Idealist.’ “But we also know that big business can make the world a better place, and feel compelled to do all we can to make that happen.”
Besides her work at BP, she was previously an advisor to the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for business and human rights.