Should British companies operating in developing countries be held to account in the UK for any harm they cause to workers or local communities in those countries?
That’s the question we put to more than 1000 members of the UK public. And the results are striking: 78% of the public agree that they should, with 49% (nearly half) agreeing strongly.
So it may be equally surprising that (at the moment) British companies can get away with things in the developing world which would be simply unthinkable here in the UK.
Through our new Justice Campaign, Traidcraft is highlighting the example of the North Mara mine. The mine is run by a UK company, African Barrick Gold. At least 16 people have been killed over the last six years by police providing security for the mine.
The company claims that the police were protecting the mine from intruders.
Local people in this very poor part of Tanzania say that they go on to the mine site to collect small quantities of rock in the hope of making a little extra money.
The key question is whether the use of armed police is an appropriate response to a security issue?
And whether, if the mine was based in the UK, even one shooting would be seen as acceptable?
Two more results from our polling are relevant here:
More than 8 out of 10 people agree that British companies operating in developing countries should treat workers and local communities as well as they would in the UK.
And more than two-thirds (67%) of the public want to see the next government do more to help people from developing countries get justice in the UK if they have been harmed by a British company.
We agree. And if you do too, please join us in inviting the leaders of the main UK political parties to let us know what they plan to do.
Polling carried out for Traidcraft by Populus via telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1003 members of the UK public, 8th-10th August 2014.
You can read African Barrick Gold’s explanation of their approach here: www.africanbarrickgold.com/corporate-responsibility/security-and-human-rights.aspx