Top Stories

July 30, 2012

Corporate Reputation

Blacklisted builders launch mass legal action

Workers blacklisted by the construction industry over more than three decades have launched a high court claim against industry giant Sir Robert McAlpine, the builder of London’s Olympic Stadium, for conspiring with other firms to keep them out of work. The workers allege that the company was involved in an unlawful conspiracy to amass a database of information against thousands of workers, which was used to prevent them working. The Consulting Association, an organisation funded by industry names including McAlpine and Balfour Beatty, holds a database on 3,400 workers deemed leftwing or troublesome. Its contents emerged following a recent employment tribunal for Dave Smith, an engineer who had a 36-page file against his name and was repeatedly victimised for highlighting safety hazards on sites, including the presence of asbestos. The Information Commissioner’s Office said at Smith’s tribunal that it believed some of the information “could only have been supplied by the police or the security services”. (The Guardian, p11)

Inclusive Business

Business students present a vision for the future

A partnership between the Financial Times newspaper, owned by Pearson, and international charity Sightsavers has set students the challenge of developing a business plan to market spectacles to young people in one or more developing country in Africa or Asia. Each team had to include at least one MBA student, but students from other disciplines such as medicine and health could also participate. Students representing 21 institutions, including 16 business schools have now been shortlisted for the final stage. High quality global journalism requires investment. “Now people are going to business school with the intention of making a difference,” says Marc Low, an MBA student from South Africa, who is participating in the challenge. He and six other students from across the world are part of the team ‘2020 Vision for Change’, whose plan proposes a low-cost marketing strategy using mobile phone technology. (Financial Times*, p15)


Koch-funded study changes sceptics’ minds

The Earth’s land has warmed by 1.5°C over the past 250 years and “humans are almost entirely the cause”, according to a scientific study set up to address climate change sceptics’ concerns about whether human-induced global warming is occurring. Professor Richard Muller, a physicist and climate change sceptic who founded the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, said he was surprised by the findings. “We were not expecting this, but as scientists, it is our duty to let the evidence change our minds.” He added that he now considers himself a “converted sceptic”. The funding for the project included $150,000 from the Charles G Koch Charitable Foundation, set up by the billionaire US coal magnate and key backer of the climate-sceptic Heartland Institute thinktank. The research also received $100,000 from the Fund for Innovative Climate and Energy Research, which was created by Bill Gates. (The Guardian)

Supermarkets winning cold war on HFCs

Many of the UK’s leading supermarkets are slashing their greenhouse gas emissions through the rapid rollout of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-free chiller units, according to a major new report that argues natural refrigeration units have now entered the mainstream. The fourth annual Chilling Facts report from the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that since 2008 the number of HFC-free supermarket stores has risen from just 14 to 344. The report praised retailers Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose for rapidly rolling out climate-friendly refrigeration systems. According to the EIA, emissions from commercial refrigeration are equivalent to 20 million tonnes of CO2 a year, a level similar to the total carbon emissions of Sweden.  The European Union is currently mulling whether to introduce legislation that would phase out HFCs, and the report argues that there is now ample evidence from supermarkets that natural refrigerant systems offer a cost-effective and highly efficient alternative. (BusinessGreen)

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