Public meeting calls for people before profits

7th June 2006
news
release

On Friday 9th June, a public meeting will be held at Manchester Town Hall to enable members of the public to learn more about how businesses can be made accountable for their social and environmental impacts.

The meeting, which takes place at 7:00pm in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour in Manchester Town Hall, is free to attend and offers a lively forum for discussion on corporate responsibility. Speakers include Ben Gilchrist, lead campaigner on corporate responsibility for SPEAK, and Samantha Lacey, responsible shareholding analyst with the Co-operative Insurance Society.

The event is timed to coincide with second reading of the Company Law Reform Bill in Parliament this week. Trade justice and environmental groups are campaigning for amendments to the current bill which will require companies to produce reports detailing their environmental and social impacts, strengthen directors’ duties to minimise harmful impacts and give communities overseas the right to seek redress through the UK courts. Campaigners say that unless the current bill is amended, it will do little to prevent on-going abuses of the rights of local people and the environment by UK companies. The groups point to examples such as the damage caused by Shell in Nigeria, Sakhalin and the US, as well as Tesco’s treatment of workers in South Africa.

Ben Gilchrist says:

“UK companies currently benefit from access to cheap resources and labour overseas, but do not always consider the impact of their activities on the local environment or the community. With the Company Law Reform bill, we have a rare and timely opportunity to make sure that in the future, companies are legally obliged to act responsibly. And by coming along to the meeting, local people can find out how they can have a direct influence on the law-making process.”

The meeting is organised by a coalition of local campaign groups who have joined forces on this issue, including Manchester Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Amnesty, Christian Aid, Speak and Tear Fund