In August 2020, a huge explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, killed 218 people. The cause was determined to be a fire that ignited a cargo of ammonium nitrate fertilizer that had brought to the port on the MV Rhosus, a ship registered to Savaro Ltd., a UK company. Victims’ families sued Savoro in UK courts – and in February the High Court of Justice in London ruled that Savoro needs to compensate the affected families.
Fossil fuel giant British Petroleum (BP) was given the green light by Mauritania and Senegal for the proposed Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) offshore gas drilling project in the North Atlantic Ocean. Scientists who reviewed the company’s impact assessment of the project complained that it was inaccurate. After four years of lobbying, the company finally agreed to redo the assessment.
Palm oil and timber giant Korindo sued Mighty Earth and Rettet den Regenwald, environmental groups based in Washington DC and Hamburg, Germany, respectively, for publicly criticizing the companies’ deforestation of West Papua, Indonesia. When the court indicated that it would rule in favor of the NGOs this past February, Korindo agreed to drop the lawsuit.
Eli Lilly charges U.S. customers up to $300 a dose for insulin despite the fact that its production costs are around $10. Unlike most other countries, the U.S. refuses to regulate Big Pharma’s ‘market’ prices. Following a decade of protests, Eli Lilly bowed to pressure and capped U.S. prices at $35 a dose.
The United States is the only wealthy country that does not guarantee paid sick leave. By contrast France offers 21 days a year and Germany offers up to 84 weeks of paid sick leave at 70 percent of salary. So, when 5,000 workers at the U.S. rail giant CSX negotiated a guarantee for four paid days of sick leave a year, the unions rejoiced at the ‘significant accomplishment.’
Workers at construction materials company Saint Gobain’s factory in Cuaulta, Morelos, Mexico, defeated company-backed union Confederation of Workers & Peasants (CTC) to set up a new union named the Independent Union of Free and Democratic Workers of Saint-Gobain. The victory over CTC was a result of major labor law reforms enacted in 2019.
Workers at Vald’or, a garment factory in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, made clothes for PVH (formerly known as Phillips-Van Heusen), that owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands. The factory abruptly shut down in December 2021 and failed to pay severance or pension benefits to the 1,100 workers. With the help of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), the workers got a collective payout of $1 million.
The European Court of Justice ruled in favor of a Belgian beekeper, Nature & Progrès Belgium and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe to close a loophole that allowed companies like Bayer to produce and sell neonicotinoids – pesticides that kill bees and other pollinators – in Europe despite a 2013 ban.
A group of 230 workers in the San Francisco Bay area sued Golden Gate Restaurant Group Inc., a franchisee of Burger King, for forcing them to work off the clock including during their meal and rest breaks. The California Labor Commissioner’s Office ordered the company to pay $724,000 in unpaid wages and interest, plus a fine of $1.2 million.
‘Rabbit Farm Resistance’ and ‘Shut Down T&S Rabbits’ successfully campaigned to shut down T&S Rabbit Nurseries farms in Rutland and East Bridgford in the UK in August 2022, by publicizing the living conditions for the rabbits, as well as how the company used a loophole to get around a 22-year old ban on breeding rabbits for their fur.
The Pakistan Accord on Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry signed in December 2022 is designed to prevent tragedies like the Ali Enterprises factory fire in 2012 in Karachi, Pakistan that killed some 260 workers. It is modeled on a similar initiative that was created in Bangladesh after the Rana Plaza Fire that killed over 1,100.
Singapore Airlines has changed its policy of requiring air stewardesses to resign before the end of their first trimester of pregnancy. Instead, pregnant staff will be allowed to apply for jobs on the ground and provided with 16 weeks of paid maternity leave after giving birth.
In the 1920s the city of Los Angeles produced a quarter of the world’s oil supply. A century later, the city council voted 12-0 to ban new oil and gas extraction and shut down existing operations, dealing a major defeat to companies like Freeport McMoRan which still operate dozens of wells inside the city.
Morgan Simon, a social justice activist, wrote several articles about how CoreCivic, which operates prisons and immigration detention centres, was profiting off the policy of the Trump administration of separating migrant children from their parents. CoreCivic sued Simon for $60 million but a U.S. judge in California ruled in Simon’s favor.
Three workers at PT Tainan Enterprise, a garment factory in Jakarta, Indonesia, were fired in August 2021, allegedly for joining a branch of the Federasi Serikat Buruh Garment Tekstil (FSB Garteks or Federation of Textile and Garment Workers Union). In May 2022, PT Tainan fired Rahmawati, the next president of the union. Tainan agreed to rehire Rahmawati in November 2022, after government mediators intervened as well as international buyers and IndustriALL Global Union.
Feonirici LLC, a Dubai based investment company, hired Stelix Civils, a construction company in Zimbabwe, to build a 5.4 kilometre long motor racing circuit in Hwange, close to the border of Botswana and Zambia, that they hoped would become the first ever Formula One track in Africa. The company evicted over 100 villagers from the proposed site who then sued to stop the project. The Bulawayo High Court ruled in favor of the villagers in September 2022.
For almost 30 years, oil and gas giant Santos has sponsored the annual multicultural arts festival in Darwin, Northern Territory. After a group of artists, First Nations representatives and philanthropists offered A$200,000 for the festival to cancel the sponsorship in 2023, the company agreed to withdraw.
On April 14, 2022, the UK government signed a £20 million deal with the Rwandan government to accept asylum seekers deported from the UK. Such deportations are typically conducted under contract with charter airlines. Under pressure from human rights groups, many airlines refused to take the contract.
In 2008, Radiant Lagoon Sdn Bhd was granted two palm oil concessions covering an area of 4,400 hectares (10,900 acres) adjacent to Gunung Mulu National Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage site in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. In 2018, the company began logging the area without obtaining required permits.
Aqua America, a subsidiary of Essential Utilities of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, made an unsolicited $1.1 billion bid in 2020 to buy the sewage system of Bucks County in Pennsylvania. The deal would have been the largest sewage privatization deal in U.S. history. Residents of the county stopped the deal from happening, with the help of grassroots organizations and local county officials.