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AFX Europe (Focus); DAVOS Critics brand Shell, Dow Chemicals, KPMG, Wal-Mart as 'irresponsible': Critics of globalisation have rounded on the "irresponsible" conduct of four top companies including the oil giant Shell…“ ( Posted 27 Jan 05


LONDON (AFX) - Critics of globalisation have rounded on the "irresponsible" conduct of four top companies including the oil giant Shell and Dow Chemicals, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.


As the meeting of global political and economic leaders got underway in the Alpine resort of Davos, pressure groups meeting nearby gave their "Public Eye Awards" to the two multinationals, as well as to the US retail chain Wal-Mart and audit firm KPMG International.


"They are model cases for all the corporate groups that have excelled in socially and environmentally irresponsible behaviour. They reveal the negative impacts of economic globalisation," the organisers of the Public Eye on Davos said in a statement.


While business leaders were set to tackle issues of corporate responsibility, pledging greater efforts on climate change or poverty at the forum, environmental, human rights and left-wing groups were selecting their worst corporate performers from a list of 20 multinational companies.


The groups in the Public Eye accused the Dow Chemical Company of failing to assume accountability in the aftermath of the chemical spill at one of its factories in Bhopal, India, in 1984


Thousands of people were killed when 40 tonnes of lethal gas leaked from a pesticide plant in one of the world's worst environmental disasters, and thousands more suffered chronic illness.


The environmental impact of Shell's oil and gas drilling operations in Nigeria were also sharply criticised.


Oil spills since 1956 had allegedly not been properly cleaned up and the group had not met promises to stop the flaring of excess gas from fields in Nigeria, according to Public Eye.


Wal-Mart's working conditions in supplying factories in Africa and Asia were slated as "intolerable, ranging from excessive compulsory overtime to wages below the subsistence level."


The Public Eye said KPMG's tax saving advice to clients had encouraged "aggressive tax avoidance".


The organisers urged private companies to take more responsibility for their business practices "instead of enforcing tough choices at the expense of local communities and the environment".


Its is the sixth time the alternative Public Eye meeting has been held only a few hundred metres away from the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.



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