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Tranz Rail Wins Roger Award

Media Release

5 April 2001

Tranz Rail Wins Roger Award (Again!) For Worst Transnational Corporation in NZ in 2000; British American Tobacco Runner-Up; Award Ceremony in Wellington Tonight

Tranz Rail has won the Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation in New Zealand in 2000. The Award will be announced at tonight's function in Wellington which starts at 7.30pm (Thursday 5th April) at St John's Hall, cnr Willis and Dixon Streets. Organisers promise an evening of serious fun at the expense of the rich and very infamous.

The judges are Prue Hyman, formerly Associate Professor of Economics and Women's Studies, Victoria University, Maxine Gay, former president of the Trade Union Federation, and Jim Delahunty of CORPWatch. Criteria for judging are by assessing the transnational corporation that has the most negative impact in each or all of the following: unemployment, monopoly, profiteering, abuse of workers/conditions, political interference, environmental damage, cultural imperialism, impact on tangata whenua, running an ideological crusade, impact on women, health and safety of workers and the public. The Award is organised by GATT Watchdog and Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA).

Until recently, Tranz Rail was owned by a consortium led by US corporation, Wisconsin Central Transportation, which has also bought up companies after UK and Australian privatisations. Wisconsin's stake in Tranz Rail was recently sold to Canadian National Railways.

The judges' statement notes: "Tranz Rail [is] the first transnational corporation to have the ignominy of winning this award twice. It was selected because it scored badly on so many criteria. The judges considered that its ongoing appalling safety record was inexcusable, a view shared by government which launched a ministerial inquiry into its safety procedures during 2000. Two Christchurch workers died in a week in May, with 5 dying countrywide in only 7 months". Concern for nothing beyond the bottom line of profit also weighed heavily with the judges. Tranz Rail is currently engaged in a plan to reduce its services and workforce through asset stripping, and confining its operations to creaming off the few freight, intercity and ferry lines that can make large profits&.Tranz Rail's lack of concern for the environment when profit and competition is involved was another factor in its selection, exemplified by the attempt to obtain speed limit exemptions for fast ferries with little concern for the impacts on the environment".

British American Tobacco (BAT) was a close runner-up. "The whole tobacco industry richly deserves the opprobrium it receives for attempting to recruit young people, and particularly young Maori, to smoke this addictive and harmful drug to replace the profits from those wisely giving it up&.What singles out BAT in 2000 is its near monopoly position, created by the international merger with Rothmans." Other finalists were banking and oil giants, WestpacTrust and BP, together with PR firm Shandwick and last year's winner, power company TransAlta.

"This will be the first year that the Roger Award ceremony has been held outside of Christchurch," said Murray Horton, a spokesman for the organisers, who will also speak at tonight's event. "We received a record number of nominations last year. There's growing community concern about corporate PR spin and successive governments' blind faith in the dangerous idea that what's good for big business is good for all of us. The Roger Award is one way to hold big business accountable and generate debate about the role of transnational corporations in New Zealand. It is they who have been the main beneficiaries of New Zealand's free market reforms, not the people."

Tranz Rail has been a finalist every year since the inaugural Roger Award. In 1999 it received a 'continuity award' for its "persistent failure to address its appalling safety record, for which it received the inaugural 1997 Roger Award".

An award certificate will also be presented to Tranz Rail at their Wellington office at 10am on Friday 6th April (4th Floor, Wellington Railway Station).

Media are welcome to attend both events: For further comment contact: Murray Horton (for the organisers, GATT Watchdog and CAFCA) 025 307742

Roger Award, PO Box 1905, Christchurch.

Battling to derail the TNCs in New Zealand, Aziz Choudry

Past Roger Awards


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