30 May, 1999This is the first time ILO standards have been the subject of a shareholder resolution.
USA/MALAYSIA: The 14-union Coordinated Bargaining Committee has reported that at General Electric's annual meeting, held on April 21, in Cleveland, Ohio, a GE worker from Malaysia, accompanied by the General Secretary of the IMF-affiliated Malaysian Electrical Industry Workers' Union, formally presented the GE shareholder resolution calling on GE to adopt ILO labour standards for its production facilities and workplaces worldwide. (See Fax News Nos. 12 and 14, 1999.) The worker effectively made a case for these standards based on the repression in his own Malaysian GE plant. He was the only speaker who received full applause from the meeting participants, including Jack Welsh himself (GE's CEO). The ILO standards resolution received 7.1% of the total vote. This was good because: (1) This is the first time ILO standards have been the subject of a shareholder resolution. (2) Institutional shareholders generally view labour standards as an inappropriate concern for shareholders to take up. (3) GE superior stock performance makes shareholders disinclined to vote against management on any issue. (4) 7.1% of the GE vote is huge (US$21 billion). In addition, the largest public employee pension funds voted for the proposal. This was a good showing on which the CBC can build shareholder support over the long haul.