Press release: Protests on the occasion the Annual General Meeting of BASF on 18 June 2020
Ludwigshafen, Heidelberg, Cologne, Hamburg, Johannesburg, Berlin – This year’s virtual Annual Meeting of BASF on June 18 will be accompanied by protests outside the company’s headquarters in Ludwigshafen and online. The international network Plough Back the Fruits is calling for a binding supply chain law that will finally get companies like BASF to address human rights violations in their global supply chains. In view of the Corona pandemic, the network is asking BASF to forego the payment of a dividend.
Bishop Jo Seoka of the Bench Marks Foundation in South Africa explains by video message on the occasion of the Annual Meeting 2020: “Over the past five years, we have attended BASF’s Annual Meeting and presented our demands. The interim results of our dialogue with BASF, both at the shareholder meetings and at round tables, are sobering: For the widows, the injured, the workers in the mines and for the communities around Marikana, virtually nothing has changed since the Marikana massacre.” Bishop Seoka asks the former chairman of the board Kurt Bock to withdraw his candidacy for the chairmanship of the company’s supervisory board. “Through his ignorance of the situation at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa and his disrespectful behaviour towards the widows of the miners who were killed and the injured who were at the shareholders’ meeting in 2016 and 2017, Mr Bock has shown that he is not suited for the new office.”
“For this year, we had planned to surround the Rose Garden, where BASF’s shareholders’ meeting takes place under normal circumstances, with a human chain to convey the message that businesses like BASF’s in the mining sector need a legal framework,” says Simone Knapp of the Church’s Southern Africa Office (KASA). “The fact that companies do not want to regulate themselves for this purpose has become increasingly clear to our campaign over the past five years. It’s a matter for politics. We need a transparent and binding supply chain law, even if companies like BASF are opposed and lobby against it.”
“BASF is one of the few companies that have increased dividends in times of the global corona pandemic,” explains Markus Dufner from Ethical Shareholders Germany. “This sends out a fatal signal: celebrate yourself, no matter what happens out there. The current context would have been a good reason for BASF to waive the dividend and pay the money into a special fund to contain the Corona pandemic. This is all the more urgent as the number of cases in the mines in South Africa is also increasing,” says Dufner. “We will therefore refuse to approve the actions of BASF’s Board of Executive Directors and Supervisory Board.”
The Plough back the Fruits network is committed to improving the working and living conditions in the platinum mines and to compensating the bereaved of the Marikana massacre, the injured and unjustly arrested. The campaign was launched in 2015, three years after the Marikana massacre, which claimed 34 miners’ lives in the afternoon of 16 August 2012 alone. Such a campaign became necessary after the business relations between BASF and the former operator of the Marikana platinum mine became known. In the meantime, the British-South African company Lonmin has been taken over by the South African-US American gold giant Sibanye-Stillwater, but the problems concerning working and living conditions remain the same. Added to this is the job cuts that was planned in the course of the takeover in 2019 for the purpose of economic consolidation, and which is now being intensified and continued against the background of the negative effects of the Corona-related lockdown on the South African mining sector.
For this reason, engagement of the Plough Back the Fruits campaign will continue.
Video statement from Bishop Jo Seoka: http://wordpress-ploughbackthefruits.p51238.webspaceconfig.de/it-cannot-be-business-as-usual-with-changed-leadership/
Thursday, 18 June 2020, from 11:30 a.m.
Rheinuferstraße 69, 67061 Ludwigshafen am Rhein (Gate 7), then past Gates 1 and 2 to the BASF Visitor Center, Carl-Bosch-Straße 38, 67063 Ludwigshafen am Rhein
Bench Marks Foundation, Bishop Jo Seoka (via KASA)
Kirchliche Arbeitsstelle Südliches Afrika (KASA), Boniface Mabanza: 0049 6221/43336 17, 0049 15225411899, boniface.mabanza[at]woek.de
Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany: Markus Dufner, Tel. 0049 221/5995647,. 0049 173-7135237, dachverband[at]kritischeaktionaere.de
Maren Grimm, Plough Back the Fruits: m.grimm[at]akbild.ac.at