Marquette Warrior: Norwegian Socialists Don’t Like Wal-Mart

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Norwegian Socialists Don’t Like Wal-Mart

From Reuters, via USA Today:
OSLO — Norway said on Tuesday that its $240-billion oil fund would no longer invest in Wal-Mart (WMT), the world’s biggest retailer, because of what it called “serious and systematic” abuses of human and labor rights.

Norway’s government also excluded shares in mining group Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) from the fund — one of the world’s biggest pension funds — for environmental reasons.

The fund sold its holdings in both firms, which had been worth about $430 million at the end of 2005 — most of it in Wal-Mart stock — by the end of last month, the finance ministry said.

“These companies are excluded because, in view of their practices, investing in them entails an unacceptable risk that the fund may be complicit in serious, systematic or gross violations of norms,” Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen said.

The move raised the number of companies excluded from the fund for what Oslo calls ethical reasons to 19. Norway has previously ejected companies involved in producing anti-personnel land mines, cluster bombs or nuclear weapons.

The Finance Ministry based the exclusions on the recommendations of the fund’s ethical council.

“The recommendation to exclude Wal-Mart cites serious/systematic violations of human rights and labour rights,” the finance ministry said. “The recommendation to exclude Freeport is based on serious environmental damage.”

The ministry said the 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.”
Yep. The real grudge is about Wal-Mart not being unionized.
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.

“It is of great value that others see what we do,” Halvorsen, who also leads the Socialist Left party, told a news conference.
Note that these kinds of leftists usually prate about “American imperialism.” But then they turn around and demand that U.S. companies impose on all their suppliers work rules that are far out of line with anything that prevails in third world countries.

We suppose this is “good imperialism,” since it’s being pushed by the left.

As for how Wal-Mart treats its U.S. workers: if the company treated them badly, it would have trouble hiring the number of people it needs.

But in fact, the typical Wal-Mart store opening sees a flood of applications from would-be workers.


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