Which is the world’s worst company?

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Which is the world’s worst company? by Amy Hall


Shell are one of the companies suggested as the worst. Photo: didbygraham, under a CC License.

Being famous isn’t always a good thing. At a time when companies have to be responsible, they certainly don’t want to be ‘the worst company of the year’.

The Public Eye Awards have been talking about companies suggested for the prize since the year 2000. They give the Awards at the same time as the World Economic forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the most powerful people in business and politics meet every year. NGO Berne Declaration and Greenpeace organise the Public Eye Awards. The two titles given to the lucky companies are the People’s Award and the Jury Award. The awards are decided by a team. There is a public vote and more than 88,000 people voted in 2012. The mining firm VALE and Barclays Bank won the awards in 2012. Barclays was suggested as a winner for forcing up food prices. But by the end of the year it had given everyone the idea that it would stop trying to make money out of food.

The Public Eye Awards 2013 will be made on Thursday 24 January at an international press conference. The possible winners are:

Alstom There has been scandal after scandal around the world about Alstom, the French energy and transport company. It has often been accused of offering money to local politicians to get business contracts. It has already had to pay more than one fine and some of its smaller companies have been kept out of the World Bank.

Coal India Coal India is the world’s largest coal producer and owns 90 per cent of India’s coal mines. It has been suggested as a winner because it has destroyed the homes of animals and it has forced people to move from their homes and lose their jobs. People say that their workers face dangerous conditions. In 2010 205 workers died. Surface mining in India is a very big threat to the Indian tiger.

G4S In 2012 G4S was often in the headlines of British newspapers. It organised security for the London Olympics and made many big mistakes. But there is more. The British firm has around 650,000 workers in security and has the largest private army in the world. It works in 125 countries and it has been accused of breaking international law and acting against human rights. More and more services usually organised by the state are given to private companies. This means we may see a lot more of G4S in 2013.

Goldman Sachs Goldman Sachs is described as ‘the vampire of finance capital’ by the Awards. A former worker described the atmosphere in the company as poisonous. And Goldman Sachs is accused of taking big fees to hide half of Greece’s public debt in its accounts. With a quarter of Greeks now at risk of poverty, Goldman Sachs seems to be laughing all the way to the bank – it will make $10 billion from the situation.

Lonmin In 2012, 44 striking mine workers at the Marikana Mine in South Africa were shot dead by police and over 60 were seriously injured. The miners worked for Lonmin, the world’s third-largest mining company. Lonmin had asked for action against the protesters. After the deaths of their workers the company said all workers continuing to strike would lose their jobs.

Repower Repower is likely to get a few votes from Calabria in Italy. In Calabria it is building a coal-fired power plant which local people don’t want. People say that Repower is putting a lot of money into persuading people and its political advisor seems to have insulted its opponents on local television by calling them alcoholics. The region is also in the middle of Mafia-land, so it seems very possible Repower will do business with them, too.

Shell Perhaps the biggest name on the list is Shell. Shell is perhaps a ‘leader’ in the area of bad companies. Shell has been suggested as a winner for increasing the search for fossil fuels in the fragile Alaskan Arctic. It has also dropped green energy completely from its list of future plans. Experts have said that they can see no method to clean spilt oil from the Alaskan Arctic and the US government is again looking carefully at their activity there. The company already strip-mines in the northern forest as part of the Canadian tar sands, where it is the third-largest company.

I am just thinking - why can’t all of the companies be winners?!

To find out more about the companies suggested and to vote, go to the Public Eye Awards website: http://www.publiceye.ch/en/vote/. Online voting is open until 23 January.

As this article has been simplified, the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed. For the original, please see http://www.newint.org/blog/2013/01/11/public-eye-awards-2013/