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Rogue firms nominated for badge of shame

Mark Thomas at DM

Mark Thomas at DM  -  © Mark Dimmock

17 April 2014

Three of the world’s biggest companies have been shortlisted for a new corporate shame award, to be voted on by the British public next month.

The Bastardtrade logo has been registered by comedian Mark Thomas as part of his year-long 100 Acts of Minor Dissent tour, which concludes in Sheffield with a final performance and exhibition this May. Mark, an NUJ member, performed a gig at the union's Delegates Meeting in Eastbourne.

Audience members from across Britain were involved in drawing up a long list of 16 companies as nominees for the first ever Bastardtrade award on grounds of social, environmental or human rights abuse.

The 16 firms nominated by the public were: Apple, Barclays, Coca-Cola, Gap, G4S, John West, McDonalds, Nestlé, Pepsi, RBS, Shell, Starbucks, South West Trains, Tesco, Unilever and Vodafone.

Now Thomas and four other judges have selected a shortlist of three – Coca-Cola, G4S and RBS – from which visitors to the Sheffield exhibition will vote for the overall winner of the Bastardtrade award.

In addition, Shell has been awarded a Bastardtrade lifetime achievement prize, and John West a newcomer award.

The other judges were Ethical Consumer magazine director Tim Hunt; Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary; John Hilary, War on Want executive director; and Hilary Jones, ethics director at Lush cosmetics company.

Mark Thomas said:

“I cannot think of a better candidate for inclusion on the Bastardtrade award shortlist than RBS. Their underwriting of unethical business puts them in contention, but it is the scale of their part in the creation of the recession, the bailout and the continued arrogance of the bonus culture that sets them apart. We have paid for this bank and we demand better.”

Tim Hunt said:

“Coke are truly a bastard company. They only make a fizzy drink, yet somehow contrive to commit the most awful abuses in their supply chain to both workers and the environment. Our decision to shortlist them was made easy by the fact they scored just 1.5 in Ethical Consumer’s ranking system, an excruciatingly low mark for a company that basically only produces soft drinks.”

Michelle Stanistreet said:

“Choosing a company worthy of being shortlisted for the Bastardtrade award was tricky considering the stiff competition, but putting G4S up at the top was ultimately a no-brainer. From its global role in peddling outsourcing on the cheap as a replacement for decent public sector contracts and its impressive ability to shrug off repeated failures and cock-ups, to its unrivalled record of assaults and mistreatment of detainees they’re paid to protect, on top of the lucrative arms deals and all-round disdain for workers’ rights – G4S has truly earned its place on the Bastardtrade award shortlist.” 

John Hilary said:

“No company could be a more deserving recipient of the Bastardtrade lifetime achievement award than Shell. Their victory in beating off strong contenders such as McDonalds and Unilever should be dedicated in particular to the Ogoni people of Nigeria, whose lives and lands have been devastated by the company over decades.”

Hilary Jones said:

“Reading the submission for John West’s inclusion in the awards, it became clear that the company are as slippery as the fish they are catching; so they truly deserve the Bastardtrade Best Newcomer award.  Using purse seining fishing methods (a method that traps lots of other species along with the tuna), it is the fish John West rejects that are depleting our oceans and leaving the marine ecosystem struggling.”

Tags: , mark thomas, comedy, ethics