Since we launched the Justice campaign back in September last year, we’ve been drawing attention to the way that some UK companies are getting away with things in the developing world which just wouldn’t be tolerated here.
Appalling accidents, pollution and abuse of local people go unchallenged – because the victims cannot get access to justice.
We’ve just produced a new video to introduce the campaign – please watch it and share with your friends online.
The video highlights two people whose lives have been devastated by the decisions and actions of UK companies.
Jitu’s wife worked in the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh. The building housed numerous garment factories making clothes for the UK high street.
On April 24 2013, the entire eight story building collapsed. Despite warning signs – cracks had appeared in the building the day before – workers were told to come in that day – they had orders to fulfil. Well over a thousand people were killed.
Jitu’s wife never came home from work that day. Now he is now bringing up their children on his own.
Despite the scale of the accident and the global outcry which followed, getting compensation from the brands which sourced from those factories has been a slow and tortuous process.
The other person featured in the video is Cecilia. She lives in southern Nigeria and used to make a living collecting shellfish from the rich waters of the Niger Delta. Overnight her living was destroyed when oil leaked from a pipeline owned by Shell.
Just after we finished making the video, it was announced that after a six year legal battle, Shell has agreed an out of court settlement with the community.
This is welcome news, and the money will make a difference to those who have lost their livelihoods due to no fault of their own. Part of the payout will be shared between the 15,600 people named on the claim, and the rest used for community projects. Shell has also promised to start working on a long-overdue clean-up of the region.
Shell’s initial compensation offer was just £4000 for the whole community – so the outcome of the case is a massive win for the community.
Shell has accepted responsibility for the spills, but claims that oil theft from pipelines and illegal refining are the main causes of pollution in the area.
Cases like this are still too few and far between, and take too long. Other communities and other victims never even get to court. That’s why we need to put pressure on our political leaders for change.
Traidcraft believes that everyone who has been harmed by a UK company should be able to get justice, in the UK if needed. We’ll be calling on the next UK government to take action: join us.