A couple of weeks ago, on 28th January 2010, Corporate Watch wrote an open letter to Cargoflora, a freight company, involved in the distribution of imported flowers to UK supermarkets . The company’s partner, J and E Distributors Ltd, based in the same office as Cargoflora, advertises that it imports flowers from Israel.

 Corporate Watch had received information from campaigners that Cargoflora is providing services to Carmel Agrexco, who source their cut flowers from Palestinian land illegally occupied by Israel. Agrexco, a partially Israeli state-owned company, owns packing houses situated on illegal settlements in the West Bank such as Tomer, Massua, Ro’i, Netiv Hagdud and Mehola. Our open letter, asked whether, in light of this, Cargoflora and J and E Page Distributors Limited would cease providing services to Carmel-Agrexco.

At 6am on Sunday 7th February, while Corporate Watch’s researchers were safely tucked up in bed, two groups of Palestine solidarity activists blockaded the gates of Cargoflora and Carmel-Agrexco on Swallowfield Way in Hayes, Middlesex, using D-locks, ‘Hares’ fencing and superglue. Both companies were involved in the distribution of flowers to the supermarkets in anticipation of Valentine’s day.

A few days later Corporate Watch received an email from the managing director of Cargoflora, accusing us of locking on to their gates:

“You see, the J&E Page Group is a direct promoter and developer of fair trade all across the world while you (protesters) are a waste of time. There are 2 types of people in this world trying to make a difference for the less fortunate societies, there is us (Page group) who are helping develop schools, hospitals and better housing conditions for the less fortunate, and then there is you, a bunch of lazy protesters who can only chain themselves to the gates of a company who is actively making a difference out there. So before going around accusing us of things we have never committed why don’t you get your facts right!!!”

 The alleged inaccuracy with which Cargoflora took issue was that, they claimed, “the J&E Page group does not import flowers nor any other product coming from Israel”. Corporate Watch wrote back, pointing out that the front page of their website advertised that “J&E Page are importers of the finest fresh cut flowers from around the world, including Colombia, Ecuador, Israel, Florida and Malyasia.” The managing director of Cargoflora retorted that that “could have been the case many years ago and this is why it still says so on the web site. (J and E) Page has not touched any Israel products for years.” However, we only have his word on this and, if it is true, J and E Page has not updated its website to reflect it.

Cargoflora has declined to answer the question of whether it will cease working with Carmel-Agrexco. During the Valentine’s Day blockade campaigners reported that members of staff from both Cargoflora and Agrexco confirmed the two companies have worked together for some years (although a few Cargoflora staff strenuously denied it).

It shouldn’t surprise J and E Page if people may not take its claim ‘not to touch Israeli products’ seriously when its own website advertises the opposite and its staff confirm that it works with a state-owned Israeli company. If you have any information about Cargoflora and J and E Page’s import of Israeli flowers please email contact(at)corporatewatch.org

Original article at http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=3532

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