BP abolishes safety ombudsman
“BP is disbanding the external safety ombudsman it set up after a fatal explosion at a company refinery in Texas in 2005 despite a growing number of concerns raised by the oil company’s employees.
“More than half the issues raised since the office was established in 2006 relate to BP’s operations in Alaska.
“BP said it would not extend the office’s tenure beyond June.
“The move comes less than a fortnight after the company announced it was setting up a new internal safety function, led by its head of safety and operations, Mark Bly.
“But the decision, which follows the company’s involvement in the world’s biggest offshore oil spill, has been criticised … The number of concerns received by the ombudsman have risen almost fourfold between its inception and last year.”
— October 12 Sydney Morning Herald article.
US apologies for STD experiments on Guatamalans
“President Barack Obama personally apologised on Friday to his Guatemalan counterpart for a US-led study conducted in the 1940s, in which hundreds of people in the Latin American state were deliberately infected with sexually-transmitted diseases.
“In a phone conversation with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, Obama expressed his deep regret for the experiment conducted by US public health researchers in Guatemala between 1946 and 1948, and apologised ‘to all those affected’ ….
“In an impromptu news conference in Guatemala on Friday, Colom denounced the study as ‘a crime against humanity’, and said he had learned of the gruesome years-long experiment in the phone call from [US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton …
“The study, which was never published, came to light this year after Wellesley College professor Susan Reverby stumbled upon archived documents outlining the 1940s experiment led by controversial US public health doctor John Cutler.”
— October 2 AFP article.
New iPhone worker abuse allegations
“Hon Hai, maker of Apple's iPhone, faces new allegations of worker abuse at its sprawling China plants in two reports that claim conditions have not improved despite company promises after a rash of suicides.
“One report, based on interviews with over 1700 workers by 20 universities in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, criticised Hon Hai for long working hours, a ‘militaristic’ work culture and mass employment of low-wage vocational college students and interns on production lines to cut costs …
“Major electronics brands like Apple were also blamed for driving Chinese workers and factory owners to the brink … Apple declined to comment.
“Market research firm iSuppli estimates that an iPhone 4 costs $US187.50 to make in China. Apple's profits margins hover above 60 per cent.”
— October 13 Reuters article.
Film-maker threatens to use lower-paid hobbits
“The actors’ union [Equity] has advised members not to accept work on Sir Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of the JRR Tolkien novel [The Hobbit] as the filmmakers have refused to enter into a union-negotiated agreement.
“Sir Peter has blasted the union for damaging the New Zealand film industry, warning that studio backers Warner Bros were considering taking the movie offshore, possibly to Eastern Europe.”
— October 12 TVNZ.co.nz article.