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Call for Sainsbury’s to end trade with companies complicit in occupation

Sainbury's campaignUNISON Scotland's International Committee has written to Sainbury's urging the company to live up to its own ethical trading principles by ceasing trade with Israeli agricultural export companies which operate in illegal Israeli settlements and which profit from Israeli violations of international law.

"The Cooperative Retail Group has already stated that it will not do business with companies that are complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Sainsbury’s should follow this lead", said Sam Macartney, Chair of UNISON Scotland's International Committee.

You can see more details and add your voice to this important campaign at http://www.sainsburyscampaign.org/?page_id=271 and you can see UNISON's letters  and the campaign statement below...

Campaign Statement
Sainsbury’s: end trade with companies complicit in occupation

We call on J. Sainsbury plc (Sainsbury’s) to stop sourcing agricultural produce from companies that participate in and are associated with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and violations of human rights and international law.
Israel violates Palestinian rights by:

  • building illegal settlements, or colonies, on occupied Palestinian land for the exclusive use of Israeli Jews who are citizens of the occupying power;
  • expropriating and exploiting the natural resources to meet the needs of these colonies and by establishing farms and factories on Palestinian land;
  • profiting from the occupation and the expropriation of natural resources at the expense of the Palestinians, the occupied people;
  • attacking farmers and fishermen and continuing a siege on Gaza that creates food shortages and prevents farmers from accessing basic equipment or exporting fresh produce;
  • displacing Palestinians from their land by force and destroying their homes, crops and livelihood;
  • establishing and enforcing a system of dispossession and discrimination, described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu as apartheid.

Agricultural export companies that trade with and operate inside Israel’s illegal colonies are complicit in Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights. In effect, these companies help to finance Israel’s continued colonisation of Palestinian land. Many illegal colonies are only economically viable because companies operating in them are able to trade with European supermarkets like Sainsbury’s.
These companies are also complicit in the destruction of Palestinian farming, the environmental destruction of Palestinian land and the abuse of Palestinian workers’ rights.

Sainsbury’s promotes itself as a leader in Fair Trade and claims to source its products “with integrity” yet sources fruit and vegetables from companies such as Mehadrin and EDOM, known to be complicit in Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.

The Cooperative Retail Group has already stated that it will not do business with companies that are complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land. Sainsbury’s should follow this lead.

We support the appeal from Palestinian civil society to campaign for the end of agricultural trade with Israel that finances and rewards the destruction of Palestinian farming. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

We call on Sainsbury’s to end trade with any supplier of produce that participates in and is associated with Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and violations of human rights and international law. We urge supporters of human rights and food sovereignty to join us in doing so.

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Letter to Sainsbury's CEO

Dear Mr Coupe

We are writing to you in your capacity as Sainsbury’s incoming Chief Executive.  As members of civil society and representatives of organizations with deep concerns about human rights, we are greatly encouraged to read your statement on the Sainsbury’s website that you recognise your customers’ concerns about “the provenance of the goods they buy and the integrity of the companies that they spend their money with’ and that sourcing with integrity is key in your dealings with farmers, growers and suppliers in the UK around the world.”

We are therefore writing to urge you to ensure that Sainsbury’s meets these obligations and upholds this commitment to ethical practice by ceasing trade with Israeli agricultural export companies which operate in illegal Israeli settlements and which profit from Israeli violations of international law. By sourcing products from Israeli export companies including Mehadrin and EDOM, both of which operate in illegal Israeli settlements, Sainsbury’s is benefiting from and providing economic support for the continued existence and expansion of these illegal settlements.

In the attached document, we have provided key facts about how international trade with companies such as Mehadrin and EDOM finance and facilitate Israeli violations of international law (see Section 1), participate in the illegal appropriation of Palestinian water (Section 1), violate the rights of Palestinian workers (Section 1) and destroy Palestinian agriculture (Section 2). The assertion in correspondence that Sainsbury’s does not currently source products from the settlements” is completely inadequate in that it does not address the complicity of the companies themselves in human rights abuses. Our concern is with the companies, and not merely the products they sell.

We note with interest that the Sainsbury’s Code of Conduct for Ethical Trade states that “ethical trading is an important company objective”.  Indeed, it is this commitment to ethical conduct which sets Sainsbury’s apart from its major competitors and which makes the company so attractive to many of its loyal customers (Section 3). We also note that the recently published government UK National Action Plan on business and human rights reinforces our request when it states that businesses should “seek ways to honour the principles of internationally recognized human rights when faced with conflicting requirements” and must “treat as a legal compliance issue the risk of causing or contributing to gross human rights abuses wherever they operate” (Section 4). 

We urge you to consider whether your continued business relationship with Mehadrin and EDOM is compatible with your own undertakings and, most importantly, with your company’s position on ethical sourcing of produce (Section 3). We urge you to undertake your own investigation into the track record of Mehadrin and EDOM, and any other export company which operates in the settlements and with which you currently trade, and thereby identify the extent to which Sainsbury’s current trading policy (Section 5) is contributing to the human rights abuses in which these companies are clearly complicit.

We look forward to hearing your response

Yours sincerely etc,

Letter to Executive Board Members

Dear Executive Board Member

 As members of civil society and representatives of organizations with deep concerns about human rights, we are greatly encouraged to read on the Sainsbury’s website that your incoming CEO, Mr Michael Coupe, recognises your customers’ concerns about “the provenance of the goods they buy and the integrity of the companies that they spend their money with” and that sourcing with integrity” is “key in (Sainsbury’s) dealings with farmers, growers and suppliers in the UK and around the world. 
We are therefore writing to urge you to ensure that Sainsbury’s meets these obligations and upholds this commitment to ethical practice by ceasing trade with Israeli agricultural export companies which operate in illegal Israeli settlements and which profit from Israeli violations of international law. By sourcing products from Israeli export companies including Mehadrin and EDOM, both of which operate in illegal Israeli settlements, Sainsbury’s is benefiting from and providing economic support for the continued existence and expansion of these illegal settlements. Sainsbury’s assertion in correspondence that they do not “currently source products from the settlements” is completely inadequate in that it does not address the complicity of the companies themselves in human rights abuses. Our concern is with the companies, and not merely the products they sell.
In the attached document, we have provided key facts about how international trade with companies such as Mehadrin and EDOM finance and facilitate Israeli violations of international law (see Section 1), participate in the illegal appropriation of Palestinian water (Section 1), violate the rights of Palestinian workers (Section 1) and destroy Palestinian agriculture (Section 2).

We note with interest that the Sainsbury’s Code of Conduct for Ethical Trade states that “ethical trading is an important company objective”.  Indeed, it is this commitment to ethical conduct which sets Sainsbury’s apart from its major competitors and which makes the company so attractive to many of its loyal customers (Section 3). We also note that the recently published government UK National Action Plan on business and human rights reinforces our request when it states that businesses should “seek ways to honour the principles of internationally recognized human rights when faced with conflicting requirements” and must “treat as a legal compliance issue the risk of causing or contributing to gross human rights abuses wherever they operate” (Section 4). 

We urge you to consider whether your continued business relationship with Mehadrin and EDOM is compatible with your own undertakings and, most importantly, with your company’s position on ethical sourcing of produce. (Section 3). We urge you to undertake your own investigation into the track record of Mehadrin and EDOM, and any other export company which operates in the settlements and with which you currently trade, and thereby identify the extent to which Sainsbury’s current trading policy (Section 5) is contributing to the human rights abuses in which these companies are clearly complicit.

Yours sincerely etc,

 

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