Daily Media Briefing 6th September

Daily Media Briefing


Posted in: Corporate Reputation, Daily Media Briefing, Environment, Supply Chain

Top Stories

September 06, 2012

Corporate Reputation

Samsung accused of China labour breaches

Samsung Electronics has been accused of breaching labour law at six factories in China by China Labor Watch, a US-based non-profit organisation. The investigative report published by the group on Tuesday, which alleges a series of “illegal and inhumane violations”, is a fresh blow to the South Korean company's reputation following last month's high-profile US legal defeat to Apple. Undercover investigators at eight Chinese factories supplying Samsung, of which six are controlled by the company, reported that workers at all the plants routinely worked more than the legally permitted amount of overtime and some employed workers under the age of 16.  In South Korea, Samsung has faced accusations that it failed to protect workers from carcinogenic substances at its semiconductor plants. (Financial Times*)



Shell to build oil sands carbon capture plant

Royal Dutch Shell is to build one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities in Alberta, Canada, in an effort to cut the greenhouse gas emissions from its business mining the country’s oil sands. Pressure groups said Shell was guilty of environmental spin to win acceptance for the controversial expansion of its oil sands operations and pointed to the government subsidies Shell was receiving for the project. When it opens in 2015 the ‘Quest CCS’ plant will capture 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.  As an extra incentive for companies to invest in CCS for its oil sands industry Alberta  has said that for every tonne of carbon dioxide captured, companies will be awarded two tonnes worth of credits. These can then be sold to other companies wanting to offset their carbon emissions. Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign co-ordinator at Greenpeace Canada, said the extra offset credits “will actually allow greenhouse gas emissions to increase”. (Financial Times*, The Times*, Business Green)

US and EU must change biofuel targets to avert food crisis, says Nestlé chief

Nestlé, the world's largest food company, has added its weight to calls by the United Nations and development groups for the US and EU to change their biofuel targets because of looming food shortages and price rises. Under laws intended to reduce foreign oil imports, 40% of US maize (corn) harvest must be used to make biofuels, even though one of the deepest droughts in the past 100 years is expected to reduce crop yields significantly. Paul Bulcke, chief executive of Nestlé said "agricultural food-based biofuel is an aberration. We say that the EU and US should put money behind the right biofuels." Nestlé says clean economy and US energy independence should not be pursued at the expense of food supplies or massive price increases.  In addition, EU countries are expected to move towards drawing 10-20% of their energy supply for transport from biofuels to reduce carbon emissions. (Business Green)

Europe to investigate Chinese exports of solar panels

The European Union is preparing to begin a broad investigation into whether Chinese companies have been exporting solar panels for less than it costs to make them. The Union is preparing to start the investigation in response to a complaint filed by a coalition of about 20 European companies led by SolarWorld, a German maker of solar panels.  The case would be one of the largest trade actions in European history and could lead to steep tariffs on much of China’s $20 billion in annual exports of solar products to Europe. Beijing's official English-language newspaper, China Daily, warned on Wednesday that Beijing would retaliate with trade curbs on the EU if Brussels went ahead with the investigation.  (The Guardian, The New York Times)

Supply Chain

H&M urges Bangladesh to raise wages

The chief executive of fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) urged Bangladesh to increase the country's minimum wage and install annual wage reviews in the country's booming textile industry to add stability and better address workers' basic needs. Karl-Johan Persson made the request in a meeting Monday with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The Swedish company gets about 25% of its products from Bangladesh's textile industry though does not own factories in the country. About 200 factories were shut down in May by strikes and rioting as Bangladeshi textile workers protested pay that does not keep pace with the rising cost of living. H&M said it is urging the government to consider an annual review of the local minimum wage that takes consumer inflation into consideration. (Wall Street Journal)

*Requires subscription