Europe, Middle East and Africa

Call Centre Recording Must be Limited
Consumer Protection, Other, Privacy and Data Protection

Adatvédelmi Biztos András Jóri has released his decision (30 August 2011 – Hungarian language version available only) regarding a complaint that Vodafone’s call centre routinely records outgoing customer service calls for “quality assurance purposes”. Mr Jóri found that this purpose is not sufficiently compelling to justify the data collection. Mr Jóri also found that if phone call recording is to occur, service providers should notify users of the data management arrangements that are in place.
Adatvédelmi Biztos’s media release (5 September 2011 – Hungarian language version available only)
(Source: Adatvédelmi Biztos)

State-Owned Bank Invest in Middle East Arms Trade
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, Government Contracting

The Independent reports that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will send delegates to a London Chamber of Commerce conference promoting the sale of weapons to the Middle East. According to The Independent, there are growing concerns about the bank’s ethical record following recent revelations that RBS invested in cluster bomb manufacturing companies and assisted in bankrolling Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. 

Promotional material for the conference, entitled “Middle East – a vast market for UK defence and security companies”, reportedly recommends Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman as lucrative clients to be “targeted”. According to the Independent, all four regimes have been accused of gross human rights abuses and suppression of dissent. Campaign Against the Arms Trade spokesperson Sarah Waldron reportedly said that the language which described Bahrain as a “‘top destination’ for companies wishing to increase their ‘business potential’” was a “sickening euphemism for an abhorrent event: a taxpayer-owned bank and taxpayer-funded civil servants are lining up to help arms dealers profit from repression.”

RBS deputy head of group media relations Michael Strachan reportedly defended the bank’s involvement in the conference by stating that “[t]he defence sector provides employment for several hundred thousand people in the UK” and that “robust policies” were in place to “govern how and where [the RBS does] business”.
The Independent: RBS involved in conference on Middle East weapons sales (7 September 2011)
(Source: The Independent)

Unions and Manufacturer Co-Operate to Improve Safety
Employment and Workplace Issues, Health, Safety and Environment

The International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) has announced that metal manufacturing company ArcelorMittal, together with the European Metalworkers’ Federation, United Steelworkers and the IMF has released a report, Together for Safety: Global Scope – Local Impact (June 2011), documenting how “unions and management have been working together globally to deliver better safety results for ArcelorMittal”.
IMF’s media release (15 August 2011)
(Source: IMF; ArcelorMittal)

Women’s Salaries 100 Years Behind Men’s
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Employment and Workplace Issues, Respect in the Workplace

The Guardian reports that new research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) suggests that  the £10,546 gendered pay gap in the UK will not close until 2109 if women’s pay continues to grow at the current rate. CMI head of public affairs Mike Petrook reportedly said the fact that it would take almost 100 years to achieve parity was “alarming” and is “a position we shouldn’t be finding ourselves in” because “it brings with it issues of discrimination and loss of skills”.
The Guardian: Women executives could wait 98 years for equal pay, says report (31 August 2011)
(Source: The Guardian)

Senior Staff Seconded to Riot Regions
Business Ethics and Corporate Culture, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability

The Guardian reports that more than ten companies have signed up for a “Business in the Community” scheme which will see senior staff members seconded for six months to assist recovery in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged areas affected by the August 2011 riots. Reportedly, the so-called “business connectors” from Asda, Sainsbury’s, BT, Dairy Crest and Greggs will work alongside residents and groups tackling issues of youth unemployment, educational underachievement and a weak local enterprise culture.
The Guardian: Supermarkets to tackle riot zones (28 August 2011)
(Source: The Guardian)