|Issue No 63
|21 July 2000
Unions Lead Ethical Investment Push
The superannuation fund covering local government workers is leading the charge into ethical investment by dumping its shares in tobacco companies.
Ian Robertson, a member of the Local Government Super Board member - and secretary of the Environmental Health and Building Surveyors Association - says all trade unions should be taking a closer look at how members' funds are being used.
The Local Government Super Board will next week launch a $130 million Regional Development Trust to provide investment in regional development projects that respect environmental standards and economic sustainability"
Robertson says it's an approach that needs to be further developed. We should be asking groups like the ACF to help us identify ethical investment opportunities.
"Asset managers and the financial industry are either hostile to or bemused by concepts of ethical investment," Robertson says.
"But there is a developing interest among employee trustees and some funds are developing ethical policies or more environmentally attractive members choices.
"There is also an interest developing in corporate governance and the potential to use employees' assets generally for good purposes."
The ethical investment call comes just a week after international shareholder pressure forced global mining giant Rio Tinto to back off its anti-worker agenda in Australia. And seek peace with the union movement.
Labor Council's super expert Mark Lennon says the Local government Fund's initiative is part of a broader push by industry funds to incorporate ethical principals into their investment decisions.
"This is an increasing trend internationally," Lennon says. "Trustees are generally becoming more involved in issues of corporate governance. "
"For example , the Californian State teachers Fund has dropped the majority of its investment in tobacco companies, while the Californian Public Employees' Fund - worth US$175 billion, is using its holdings to put heat on Lone Star Steakhouses over their corporate governance policy."
The Labor Council has called a meeting of union trustees and interested affiliates to develop a strategy and advisory role on the issue.
Interview: Paul Keating's Big Picture
The former Prime Minister is still painting on a broad canvass. He talks to Workers Online about the new economy, fair trade and political chi.
Unions: War in the West
Only six months after signing individual staff contracts, the gloss has worn off for some of BHP's Pilbara iron ore workers.
Environment: Farmers Fudge DNA Dangers
Farmers have missed the chance to have a meaningful debate into the use of genetically modified crops.
International: 'Dot Union' Proposal on the Table
ICANN, the global governing body of Internet domains, has released the following expression of interest in proposing a top-level domain for trade unions
Economics: Edge of the Abyss
Political economist Frank Stilwell argues that a constellation of events gives good reason to be worried about the Australian economy.
History: Taming the Tigers
Prominent labour historian, Dr Ming Chan, is visiting Australia to report on how workers are faring in the new Hong Kong.
Review: Music is Crap
It's already the second half of the first year in the new millenium. Who would have ever predicted a crisis in the popular music industry when we are at such an advanced stage ?
Satire: Last Kosovars Found Behind Couch
State Emergency Services personnel were called to a house in Brighton this morning, where the last five remaining Kosovar refugees have been found wedged behind a couch.
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