12 May, 2020Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell will hold a closed, online annual general meeting next week because of the coronavirus crisis. IndustriALL has submitted questions to the company on its treatment of contract workers in resource-rich developing countries.
On 13 May, Shell will hold an online shareholder’s engagement meeting ahead of the 19 May AGM. Shareholders were invited to submit questions two weeks before the engagement meeting. Shell will respond to questions by email instead of at the public meeting.
IndustriALL Global Union has ongoing concerns about conditions at Shell workplaces around the world, and has consistently campaigned against the very high level of casualization at Shell. IndustriALL has previously raised questions and also joined demonstrations outside the Shell AGMs in The Hague in 2018 and 2019.
IndustriALL’s primary concern is Shell’s behaviour in resource-rich developing countries, where the company’s large footprint perverts the development of the local economy and entrenches an extractive industry that is heavily reliant on foreign companies.
A prime example is Nigeria, where Shell’s presence has led to decades of environmental degradation, corruption, human rights abuses and union busting. Nigerian unions call for the sustainable industrialization of their country, and a programme of beneficiation that will see the country’s oil wealth raise standards of living for everyone.
But 82 per cent of Shell’s workers are contract workers who live in poverty with no job security, poor healthcare and little regard for health and safety. Workers who attempt to unionize, raise health and safety issues or report injuries are dismissed. Because Shell is the largest company in the Nigerian oil sector, its actions set a precedent, and many other companies in the sector show similar behaviour.
Unions in Nigeria report numerous cases of workers dying or becoming permanently disabled because they have been too afraid to raise safety concerns. Last year, IndustriALL reported Shell’s treatment of contract workers to the UN Human Rights Council.
IndustriALL’s primary demand is that Shell engage in social dialogue at a global level with workers’ representatives. So far, Shell has categorically refused the offer of international dialogue.
In questions submitted ahead of the AGM, IndustriALL raised the contradictions between the principles that Shell claims to adhere to in publications like its Sustainability Report, and well-documented evidence that Shell fails to meet these standards. IndustriALL submitted the following questions:
- Why Shell does not exercise due diligence on contractors to ensure that they are socially responsible?
- Why Shell does not control and provide proper health insurance for all their workers and contractors?
- Will a representative of Shell agree to meet with IndustriALL Global Union to establish dialogue with the aim of addressing and resolving these violations?
Energy director Diana Junquera Curiel said:
“We have consistently raised these issues with Shell, and we have never had an adequate response. However, there is real suffering at Shell workplaces, and we are determined to change this. We remain committed to dialogue and working with Shell to resolve these issues.”