And the move by pharmaceutical company Warner Chilcott has been praised by New York City Comptroller William Thompson whose office has for years been arguably the most diligent campaign watchdog in the U.S. MacBride campaign.
Thompson, as comptroller, guides the city’s huge pension fund investments and the city has for years required MacBride compliance when it invests in companies doing business in Northern Ireland.
“The pension funds helped create the MacBride Principles to ensure that all workers are treated fairly,” Thompson said in a statement.
“Employment discrimination in Northern Ireland has historically been one of the major causes of sectarian divisions, and we are committed to supporting the Northern Ireland peace process in every way possible. I applaud Warner Chilcott for joining us in this effort,” Thompson said.
The fair employment guidelines are in this case being specifically backed by the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS), Teachers’ Retirement System for the City of New York (TRS), New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System (BERS).
The Warner Chilcott move was also praised by New York city Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.
“In recent times, we have witnessed an amazing transformation in Northern Ireland towards peace and prosperity. While this progress gives hope for economic and social growth, corporate adherence to the MacBride Principles will further ensure that equal treatment to all employees is preserved.
“Warner Chilcott has recognized the importance of the MacBride principles as well as the benefits they will confer to employees and to the firm’s future,” said Gotbaum.
“I thank the comptroller for helping NYCERS and the other City pension funds to use their influence to promote justice and equality in the workplace, both domestically and abroad.
NYCERS and the other city pension systems represent hundreds of thousands of workers, and it is therefore appropriate that we do what we can to improve conditions for workers all over the world,” Marshall said.
In addition to Warner Chilcott, three other companies so far this year have been presented with shareholders proposals on MacBride by the city pension funds.
They are: Conexant Systems of Newport Beach, Ca; Crane Company of Stamford, Ct., and Manpower, Inc. of Milwaukee, WI. Collectively, the New York City Pension Funds hold shares worth millions of dollars in these companies.
The nine MacBride Principles – which were based on the Sullivan Principles drawn up for apartheid-era South Africa – came into being in 1984 and were endorsed by and given the name of Nobel Peace laureate and founder of Amnesty International, Sean MacBride.
To date, a total of 93 companies in addition to various U.s. states and cities have agreed to adopt the principles for their operation in Northern Ireland.
“Recent advancements towards peace in Northern Ireland have created attractive opportunities for American businesses to operate there,” Comptroller Thompson said.
“Implementation of the MacBride Principles demonstrates a company’s dedication to social justice and equality of opportunity in international operations.”