Top Stories

September 28, 2021


Exploitation of meat plant workers rife across UK and Europe

Meat companies across Europe have been hiring thousands of workers through subcontractors, agencies and bogus co-operatives on inferior pay and conditions, an investigation undertaken by newspaper The Guardian has found. Workers, officials and labour experts described how Europe’s £190 billion meat industry has become a global hotspot for outsourced labour, with a floating cohort of workers, many of whom are migrants, with some earning 40% to 50% less than directly employed staff in the same factories. The Guardian has uncovered evidence of a two-tier employment system with some workers subjected to sub-standard pay, undefined working hours, zero-hours contracts, bogus self-employed status and no sick pay. Workers describe living in a precarious state in countries where they do not speak the language and struggle to understand their agreements and legal rights. (The Guardian)


Boohoo to sign safety pact with Bangladesh garment workers

Online fast fashion retailer Boohoo said it intended to sign a new agreement with its garment workers in Bangladesh that makes retailers liable for legal action unless their factories meet labour safety standards. The company's European rivals H&M and Inditex-owned Zara have already signed the updated agreement that was announced in August. The new pact, called the , replaces the Bangladesh Accord, which was struck in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory building collapse in 2013 that killed more than 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh. The news comes a year after Boohoo accepted all recommendations of an independent review that found major failings in its supply chain in England after newspaper allegations about working conditions and low pay in factories in the Leicester area. (Reuters)


EIB backs ArcelorMittal’s activities to decarbonise steelmaking

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced a €280 million loan granted to steel and mining company ArcelorMittal, aimed at supporting the company’s climate goals through reductions in the environmental footprint of its manufacturing facilities, steel products and technological solutions. The funding will support the company’s research and development and expenditure  in areas including circular economy and CO2 reduction, new rolling technologies for energy reduction, blast furnace decarbonization, and substrates and coatings for global energy transition applications, such as solar and windmills. Steelmaking is one of the biggest emitters of CO2 globally, but hard to decarbonise given the sector’s heavy dependence on coal. While several initiatives have emerged recently to help address the impact of steel, most commercially viable alternatives are still at an early stage. (ESG Today)


Australia PM undecided on attending crucial COP26 summit

Australia's prime minister Scott Morrison has signalled he may not attend the UN's landmark COP26 climate conference as his government faces continued criticism of its poor climate record. Australia– is one of 200 countries expected to present their updated 2030 emissions cuts at the meeting.  Morrison has said he wishes Australia to achieve net-zero emissions "as soon as possible", but has not outlined any measures. The news comes as a study by the Australian Conservation Foundation suggested about 20% of carbon credits created under the federal Coalition’s main climate change policy do not represent real cuts in carbon dioxide and are essentially “junk”. The research found the government’s $4.5 billion “avoided deforestation” projects do not represent genuine abatement as in most cases the areas were never going to be cleared. (BBC News; The Guardian)


WHO tightens maximum safe levels of key air pollutants

Air pollution is more dangerous than previously thought, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, as it creates new that slash maximum safe levels of key pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide. The guidelines halve the recommended maximum for exposure to tiny pollutant particles called PM2.5. The WHO estimates almost 80% of deaths related to PM2.5 globally could be avoided if the current air pollution levels were reduced to those proposed in the updated guideline. The WHO is also cutting the recommended limit for PM10 microparticles  by 25%. Other pollutants singled out include ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide. The changes to the guidelines mean the UK's legal limits for the most harmful pollutants are now four times higher than the maximum levels recommended by the WHO. (BBC News)



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