Since April 2012 Corporate Watch, and campaigners from the Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have been in correspondence with B&Q over its sale of products manufactured by Keter Plastics, an Israeli company with a global reach which has a factory in the illegal Barkan settlement industrial zone in the occupied West Bank.
Earlier this year B&Q pledged, in correspondence with Palestine solidarity campaigners, not to sell products “sourced from conflict zones and/or occupied territories”. However, when Corporate Watch asked them to clarify whether this meant the company would strike Keter off its list of suppliers, the store responded,
”We are not sourcing from the Barkan site and have received appropriate guarantees from Keter to verify this claim.
“We continue sourcing from Keter whilst engaging with them on the issue of the Barkan factory”Read the full letter from B&Q here
Barkan, attached to the residential settlement of Ariel, was established in 1982 on the land of the Palestinian villages of Haris, Bruqin and Sarta. The industrial zone hosts a disproportionate number of factories that pollute the environment. For example, waste from Barkan runs down the hillside of the Al-Matwi valley, damaging Palestinian farmland. Palestinian labourers are employed in the industrial zone and are paid, in several documented instances, below the minimum wage and are denied the right to unionise.
Corporate Watch has sent the following to B&Q:
Corporate Watch would like to congratulate B&Q for its policy of avoiding goods manufactured in Barkan industrial zone. However, we would like to point out that this policy does not go far enough. By continuing to source from Keter, B&Q is directly contributing to the financial viability of a company which maintains a manufacturing facility on occupied territory, on land forcibly expropriated from several Palestinian villages.
In a letter to campaigners Terry Anne Rowland of B&Q’s Customer Care Team said: “we will work with our suppliers to identify which, if any, products are manufactured in countries associated with conflict/occupation (e.g. Afghanistan/Israel) and seek confirmation that the product has not, at any stage, been made by a company operating in a conflict zone or occupied territories. We will put in place exit strategies for the product and/or supplier where progress to our aim, over a defined period, is not achieved.”
Corporate Watch would like to ask the management of B&Q how long the company plans to continue sourcing from Keter if it refuses to pull out of Barkan. Every Keter Plastic product sold by B&Q supports Israel’s military occupation, which has lasted for over 45 years and which is constantly claiming more and more Palestinian land. For example, on November 30th 2012 the government announced that it would build 3,000 homes for settlers in the E1 area of the occupied West Bank
We would also like to point out that the Co Op, the UK’s fifth largest food retailer, has recently changed its ‘Human Rights and Trade Policy’ and is now committed not to deal with any supplier which operates in illegal Israeli settlements. The Co Op has taken a decision to cease its trade relationship with four companies – Arava, Mehadrin, Ada Fresh and Agrexco – in line with this policy. We would encourage B&Q to adopt a similar position and to cease trading with Keter Plastics.