Unocal sees biggest ever vote on Burma

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date: Wednesday 22 May 2002

embargo: immediate release

Attention: Industrial and investment correspondents

Shareholders have delivered a clear message to Unocal about their concerns over its continued operations in Burma. Preliminary results show a shareholder resolution calling on the company to address employment practices in Burma won a record 31.3% of shareholder votes. Abstentions accounted for a further 10.2% of votes.

The result represents a massive increase in support by shareholders for questions about the company’s operations in Burma to be taken seriously. A similar resolution last year achieved around 23%.

The resolution called on Unocal to adopt and implement an enforceable company-wide employee policy based on the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

Trade unionists and other campaigners worldwide have worked to build support for the resolution. In the UK, the TUC contacted over 100 pension funds and held meetings with key investors to encourage support. Information about the resolution was also sent to all 630 members of the TUC Trustees Network.

As a result, a number of large UK institutional investors, including fund manager CIS and some individual pension funds, decided to vote in favour or abstained from voting on the resolution. In the US CalPERS and the New York State Common Retirement Fund were among the large funds voting in favour of the resolution and proxy voting agency ISS also recommended that its clients vote in favour of the resolution .

TUC Institutional Investment Officer, Tom Powdrill, said:

'To have one in three of your shareholders supporting a resolution that puts the issue of operating in Burma centre stage is something that the company cannot ignore. Taken with the high abstention rate it is clear that the company is approaching the point where there is widespread investor unease.

'Already Unocal CEO, Charles Williamson has responded to the growing investor concern with the company's human rights and labour rights practices by telling shareholders that he will take the issue up with the Unocal board of directors. We sincerely hope that Unocal will respond positively to this significant result.'

Notes to Editors:

  • The TUC Trustees Network has 630 members. The total assets of the schemes these trustees are involved with stewarding are over £260bn.

Contacts:

Media enquiries: TUC Press Office 020 7467 1248, email [email protected]

Other enquiries: Tom Powdrill 020 7467 1201 or email [email protected]

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