BBC Defies Global Protests, Awards World Challenge Prize to Pearl Continental Owners’ Charity Operation
On December 20, the BBC announced that the 2008 “World Challenge” prize had been awarded to the Hashoo Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Hashoo Group which owns the Pearl Continental Karachi Hotel, where workers have been fighting for over 7 years against sackings, harassment, violence and imprisonment to have their union recognized. December 9, 2008 – Pearl Continental Karachi workers, their children and fraternal union and labour organizations rally in support of the embattled union and call on the government to act to secure union recognition. The PC Hotel Workers Solidarity Committee was formed in 2005 by 35 civil society organizations. Thousands of people around the world responded to the IUF’s campaign to notify the judges that the Hashoo Foundation’s participation in this competition was unacceptable in view of the parent company’s record of vicious union-busting. Unions and NGOs in Pakistan representing thousands of people also sent petitions to the judges, expressing their outrage. None of this was able to sway the BBC and the judges, who insisted that adequate “due diligence” had been done, and that human rights violations by powerful investors have no bearing on philanthropic activity – provided the groups carrying out the activity are formally distinct. We are naturally disappointed that the spread of this dubious “Corporate Social Responsibility” logic has allowed the judges to make this award in violation of the facts and of plain common sense. The workers at the Pearl Continental Karachi will continue their struggle for justice, with the full support of the IUF and its members around the world.