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Vi jobber for en rettferdig verden i økologisk balanse

The Norwegian Arve Varleite's furniture factory in Malaysia is accused by the local population of operating illegally, of exposing the local people to health hazards by burning toxic waste, and of making use of child labour in the production. The local population has criticized the company in the environment- and consumer periodical Utusan Konsumer. Varleite repudiates all the accusations to NorWatch.
When the Nigeria Campaign and the demand that Statoil must withdraw from Nigeria were launched, the conspicuous opposition politicians Marit Arnstad, Kjell Magne Bondevik, and Hilde Frafjord Johnson were important supporters.

Asia has become the world's waste dump for discarded ships. 70-90% of all demolition of ships takes place in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The reason is cheap labour and lack of enforcement of environmental regulations, if they exist at all.

NW has come across a list which proves that 11 ships from acknowledged Norwegian shipping companies have been sold to Asian ship-breakers. According to the shipping companies, none of the ships were cleaned up before they were sent away.

Norwegian authorities think that the ships cannot be considered as waste as long as the ships are still running and have the necessary certificates, even though they are about to be sent to Asia to be demolished. Denmark has a different view, and has put a state-owned ferry company under investigation for having sold two boats to Indian ship-breakers.

Norsk Hydro has pulled out of the heavy oil project Sincor in Venezuela. Norsk Hydro owned a 15% share of the land based project which is estimated to cost around 28 million kroner. The other partners are Statoil (15%), PdVSA (38%), and Total, which owns 47% after taking over Hydro's shares.
Recently, NorWatch presented its 1998 annual report, in which a statistical analysis of all issues the project has made public since its beginning in 1995 was made.
On monday March the 6th, the Brazilian Minister of Justice decided that the Lorentzen owned company Aracruz Celulose has to return merely 2.571 hectares of land to the Tupinikim and Guarani indians. This decision is met by strong protests from the indians. During a press conference on Monday March 9th, they declared that their fight to regain their traditional lands will continue by demarcating and occupying an area of 13.579 hectares, which, since 1993, they have demanded returned to them.
A letter signed with 6000 fingerprints from people affected by Hydro's bauxite project in India, was handed over to the Norwegian government on March 24th by representatives of Norwegian NGOs The Future In Our Hands,  The Stromme Memorial Foundation and Norwegian Church Aid. The people of the project area request that the Norwegian government and the Norwegian people take "neccessary action" in order to halt the project. The letter is printed in extenso on page 4.
The Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has requested a detailed report concerning the violent attacks on the local population in the Rayagada district by the police, in connection with the Utkal project. The attacks on people in Kucheipadar on January 5th this year, is of particular concern to the Commission (see NorWatch newsletter no. 4/97).
Reflect on that number for a while. One thousand billion kroner. It is equivalent to a couple of Norwegian national budgets, one million times the NorWatch budget, or a handful of Norwegian national Oil investment funds - with or without ethical guidelines. It corresponds to more than fifty per cent of the total value of Norwegian industry and commerce; it is the value of what the Norwegian State and the Norwegian local authorities owns in Norwegian Industry, if information from the newspaper Dagens Næringsliv and the Norwegian Bankers Association, is correct.

On March 29 new demonstrations were held against the alumina companies in Orissa. The demonstrations were met by people who used violence to stop the protests against the Utkal consortium, where semi-governmentally owned Norsk Hydro is the major shreholder, and their competitor L&T. Two persons employed by the Utkal project physically maltreated a visiting protestor at the previous Utkal Alumina office in Tikri. The two have now been fired, to show that the company dissociates itself from the incident.
- The event is yet another sign that the tension in the project area is deplorably high, something which Utkal is trying to prevent, says Public relations officer at Hydro Aluminium, Mr. Thomas Knutzen.

On March 23, three Norwegian NGOs, the Stromme Foundation, the Norwegian Church Aid and the Future In Our Hands, handed over a letter signed by 6000 people affected by the Utkal project, to the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry. The signatories request that the Norwegian authorities help to halt the project. State Secretary Harriet Berg's answer to the letter is addressed to the Norwegian organizations, and is written in Norwegian. No English translation is available. The NGO's are asked to forward the views of the government to the affected local population.
The NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) documentary on working conditions at the Chinese factory which makes clothes for the Bjørn Dæhlie Collection, Swix Sport and Helly Hansen, made the Norwegian companies promise to look into the matter and discuss it with their Chinese supplier. However, when the issue first was discussed in the "Til Debatt" program on television, and on several occasions afterwards, the companies have raised doubts about certain aspects of China correspondant Erling Borgen's reportage. NorWatch has followed the matter up by requesting that the companies accept that a third, independent party freely investigate the issue.

NorWatch has been accused of being close-minded in our view that a company is responsible for its products also after the product leaves the premises of the plant where it was manufactured (what we may call an extended "cradle-to-the-grave-principle").

On April 4th, the Theun-Hinboun hydropower project was officially inaugurated. At the same time, an assessment of the NORAD-supported project, in which Statkraft is one of the owners, was published. The report confirms what project critics since long have been warning against: Fish catches from the river are dramatically decreased, agricultural land has been flooded, drinking water quality has gotten worse, and the affected people have not been compensated. Statkraft denounces the report, but say they will look into some of the questions it raises.

In January the salaries at Jotun Paints South Africa were less than half the minimum wages recommended by the Chemical Workers' Industrial Union, and substantially lower than other South-African paint manufacturers. Contrary to what they do at their Norwegian factories, the South African factory does not measure air pollution emissions. Also, a company of dubious reputation is contracted to handle toxic waste from the factory.

Jotun argues that minimum wages are not mentioned in South African law, but admits that their South African factory does not comply with the company's internal standards. However, the wages are now to be raised, and other aspects of the factory to be improved.