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Friday, 3 July 2009

Church’s investment in slave labour

How’s the Church of England going to get out of this one?

The Christian think tank Ekklesia reports today that the church has got its sticky fingers into all sorts of ethically unsound pies.

We knew as much, anyway. Is there really such a thing as a clean investment, unless you know every single thing about the company you’ve put your money into?

Ekklesia singles out Tesco to begin with, because the supermarket giant is about to celebrate the fact that it’s making billions off the backs of slave labour.

Well, it wouldn’t exactly put it like that, but the chain has come under fire for its 7p-per-hour garment workers in Bangladesh.

Shareholders are rubbing their hands – and so must be the Church of England, which has an investment of £27.5 million in Tesco.

Ekklesia goes on:

The news comes as the third uncomfortable revelation for the Church in four days.

Yesterday, the Guardian newspaper revealed that Exxon Mobil, in which the Church of England has a shareholding valued at £17.2 million, is continuing to fund lobby groups which question the reality of global warming, despite a public pledge to cut support for such climate change denial. On Tuesday, campaigners announced that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) would be the subject of a legal action after it was linked to climate change and human rights violations. The Church has a £8.4 million stake in RBS.

Now the charity War on Want has cited research revealing that employees work up to 80 hours a week making Tesco clothes in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka for as little as 1663 taka (£14) a month.

No doubt it will gloss over all of this by using the same bullshit it uses to convince us that there is a sky fairy who loves us all. I’m just waiting for the “. . . er, stutter, er, stammer, er, well, it’s like this . . . er . . .”

But no: just like politicians and big business, it’ll have some slick PR wallah to make it all sound glossy and we’ll all go home and watch EastEnders and forget all about it.

Ekklesia quotes Simon McRae, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, who says, “While Tesco has smashed all records with more than £3 billion profits, it is also breaking promises to ensure a living wage and decent conditions for its garment workers. Tesco cannot be trusted to keep its word. The British government must act to stop this abuse.”

So this is the sort of company the Church of England is investing large sums of money in. Unlike an individual shopper, it can’t even say it invests only in Tesco Value Krispie Kokonut Splodge and not its clothes. When you invest in a company, you invest in all it does.

1 comment:

Stuart Hartill said...

Given the Arch of Cant's usual stance on corporate greed (or perhaps other corporations' greed)I was puzzled by a section in a Telegraph article (see about 'alternative' communion services which told us:
‘A psalm is recited in "beat poetry" style to the accompaniment of African Djembe drums, and prayers are said "for the corporate world, for influential CEOs who oversee billion-dollar industries".’
and that:
The prayers continue: "We pray for John Chambers of Cisco Systems, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Dr Eric Schmidt of Google Inc, H Lee Scott Jr of Wal-Mart Stores and others who have already made commitments to justice." ‘
P.S. - pretending for a second that the Arch Druid really does have a direct line to his fictitious friend who knows all, wouldn't C of E investments be subject to insider trading regulations?