So. Africa: BASF criticised for human rights performance of supplier company Lonmin; aims to set up grievance mechanism

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Company response
5 May 2016

response by BASF

Author: BASF

...At the end of November 2015, the third-party ERM audit was conducted by two South African auditors that had been validated and approved by TfS. The key categories of audit assessment included: Environment, Health & Safety; Labor & Human Rights; Management; and Governance. While the audit noted room for improvement, primarily in the areas of environment and safety, there were no critical findings of Lonmin’s governance, human rights or labor practices nor any performance violations that would prevent BASF’s continuation of its relationship with Lonmin. In response to the audit findings, BASF is taking further steps in providing active knowledge sharing with Lonmin in areas which are comparable to the chemical industry. For example: providing support to help improve the mining company’s firefighting capabilities, while also sharing best practices on enhancing community grievance procedures. Lonmin has remained open and appreciative of BASF’s efforts to help improve its safety preparedness and sustainability performance, and remains committed to participating in follow-up assessments to ensure BASF’s requirements are fully met...

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Article
29 April 2016

BASF, Lonmin and how the Marikana battle for justice is taken to Germany

Author: Mail & Guardian, Koketso Moeti

...BASF, a chemical company, prides itself on how it combines “economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility”. But can it really claim this when it continues to be the largest customer of Lonmin, a company with blood on its hands. In 2015, during the BASF annual shareholder meeting, Anglican Bishop Jo Seoka told those present that one of their most important platinum suppliers was co-responsible for murder, human-rights violations and the inhumane living conditions of its workers. He further asked, “What do you say about this and what are you prepared to do to improve the lives of those who contribute towards your wealth”....

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Article
29 April 2016

Justice for Marikana? Four Reasons South Africa should care about the upcoming BASF shareholders’ meeting

Author: The Daily Vox, Koketso Moeti

...Lonmin is the multinational mining company where a strike for a living wage led to the death of 44 people, 34 of whom were brutally gunned down in a single day by SAPS. On the 29th April 2016, BASF, a principal customer of Lonmin will be hosting their annual shareholders’ meeting. Apart from the usual attendees, a South African delegation which includes two of the women made widows by the Marikana massacre will be present, calling for justice for Marikana. KOKETSO MOETI lists four reasons why we should care about this meeting.1. Lonmin clearly won’t take responsibility on its own... 2. BASF prides itself on being a founding member of the United Nations Global Compact...3. Justice for Marikana is about more than Marikana...4. We can’t allow “business as usual”...

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Article
28 April 2016

The Platinum Complex: How far should the German chemical company BASF be held responsible for the massacre of miners in South Africa?

Author: Die Zeit, Stefan Buchen, Translation (Original in German): Simon Philips

...Does this mean that BASF has any particular responsibility regarding Lonmin? BASF’s chair, Kurt Bock, thinks that it does. At a press conference in late February, Bock confirmed ‘We are a huge customer for Lonmin.’ As such, BASF cared about what happened at the firm; after all, BASF and Lonmin had been working together for 30 years. Bock continued by arguing ‘We see it as our duty to help them improve’. Every year, BASF buys platinum from Lonmin worth around EUR 450 million. If we compare this figure to information provided by Lonmin in its previous annual reports, it becomes clear that BASF is Lonmin’s largest single customer and that the German chemical company purchases more than 50 per cent of Lonmin’s annual platinum production. Bock’s portrayal of the friendly face of capitalism does not entirely reflect the steps he has taken in the past. Until BASF and Lonmin’s relationship became the focus of media attention, Bock saw no reason to accept any responsibility for the working conditions and the massacre in Marikana. A year ago, Bock was publicly questioned about this matter for the first time when the chair of the South African Episcopal Council, Jo Seoka, attended BASF’s AGM in Frankfurt. Seoka spoke about the massacre in Marikana and how the bereaved and injured were still suffering. Bock’s response was dismissive: as South Africa was far away from Ludwigshafen, it was hard to judge what was happening there...

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