Top Stories

September 17, 2013

Supply Chain

Report highlights malnourishment of Cambodian garment factory workers

A study, Shop ‘Til They Drop, released by Labour Behind the Label, a workers’ rights campaign group, has found one third of Cambodian workers making clothes for sale in the UK are not getting enough food. The workers, who produce clothes for global brands such as H&M, were also found to be severely underweight, to the extent that 25% of them would be classified as anorexic in the UK. The report comes after a series of mass faintings in recent years. According to the report, the minimum wage salary of Cambodia’s 400,000 mostly female garment workers is inusfficient to fund an adequate diet. Often, where greater provisions are made for food, the expenses are used on other essentials or shared with family members. Companies, NGOs and unions have discussed the report’s findings and the possibility of introducing staff canteens. The Garment Manufacturers’ Association of Cambodia have been defiant however, questioning how “they don’t have enough money for food to eat when half of them have mobile phones?”  (The Independent)

Responsible Investment

FTSE and EIRIS part company on FTSE4Good index

Index firm FTSE has announced that it is to stop working with the responsible investment research company EIRIS, bringing an abrupt end to the firm’s 12-year collaboration on the FTSE4Good index family. FTSE4Good is one of the leading indices used by socially responsible investors, judging companies against a set of fixed policy, management and reporting criteria in the areas of counter-bribery, the environment, human rights, social factors, stakeholder factors and the supply chain. FTSE is set to develop a new methodology for the FTSE4Good index and related products. EIRIS and its research partners will cease collecting data for the FTSE4Good Index from 30 September 2013. The relationship with FTSE, which has allowed EIRIS to build similar relationships with both the Johannesburg and Mexican stock exchanges, was seen as somewhat of a ‘loss-leader’ for the company. (FTSE, Responsible Investor*)

Corporate Reputation

MPs call for greater transparency in clinical trials

MPs have warned that patients’ lives are being put in danger by drug companies and medical researchers who are failing to publish unfavourable results from clinical trials. The current lack of transparency means that often trials are not registered before they are carried out. Results that remain private cannot face public, or independent expert, scrutiny. The chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Andrew Miller, described the current state of play as “unacceptable, undermining public trust, slowing the pace of medical advancement and potentially putting patients at risk." Research shows that half of all clinical trials go unpublished and that if a trial shows favourable results it is twice as likely to be published. The MPs’ warning increases existing pressure on the pharmaceutical industry to commit to greater openness. (The Guardian)

Danone baby division unit accused of bribery in China

Dumex, a baby food brand owned by Danone, the French multinational, is alleged to have paid doctors and nurses to promote its baby formula products in Tianjin, northern China. Dumex is said to be investigating the claims and was “extremely shocked” by the accusations as they “strictly adhere to Chinese laws and regulations”. The alleged bribes were of around £1,000 and come in the middle of a wide-ranging crackdown by the Chinese government on corruption in its £220bn healthcare market. Danone was previously fined in China over price-fixing, and also had to issue a precautionary recall of milk formula products after Fonterra, one of its suppliers, warned of potential contaminations earlier in the year. (BBC)


Technology firms support sustainable server farms

Apple has chosen the small town of Yerington, Nevada as the home for its new solar farm. The farm will put the town on the ‘Green IT’ map of the USA, whilst providing clean energy to Apple’s data centre in Reno and the local power grid. The 137 acre farm will generate around 43.5m KWH of clean energy, allowing emails, documents stored online and Internet searches to become more sustainable. The carbon intensity of data sectors has become a growing focus in the ICT sector: some research shows that using more energy-efficient IT equipment could reduce emissions by up to 80%. Yahoo, Google, Apple and Facebook see sustainable data centres as strategic long-term priorities both for themselves and the environment. (Just Means)

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