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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.
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").
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.