HC Deb 03 June 1992 vol 208 cc563-4W
Mr. Haves

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will report on how British companies have complied with the European Community code of conduct for companies with interests in South Africa during the 12-month period to 30 June 1991.

Mr. Heseltine

By 28 February 1992, a total of 101 companies had submitted reports to the DTI under the code of conduct. Copies of the reports and of the Department's analysis and summary have, as in previous years, been placed in the Library of each House. These documents may also be inspected at the Department's export market information centre, at the British embassy in Pretoria, at the British consulate-general in Johannesburg, and at the British consulates in Cape Town and Durban.

The analysis and summary is the sixth since the adoption of the revised code of conduct by EC Foreign Ministers in November 1985. Reports were received from all British companies, except two, whose interests are known or believed to warrant a full report under the code. The two companies not reporting were reminded of the existence of the code, and of the importance the Government attach to it.

The reporting period under review has seen a decrease in the number of black employees of British subsidiaries being paid below the code's recommended minimum level. Companies' reports indicated that over 98 per cent. of employees were paid above this level.

Companies' reports indicated that the level of their involvement with trades unions representing black workers increased, with the majority of companies reporting formal involvement with the trades unions. Many companies have taken steps to alleviate the particular hardships experienced by their migrant workers.

As in previous years, all companies provide on-the-job training and many provided additional training facilities. Companies continued to report impressive levels of involvement in projects benefiting not only their employees and their families but also the wider communities from which their work forces were drawn. Companies also continued to encourage the growth of black business.

The period covered by the report has been a time of rapid political change in South Africa. But, these encouraging developments have taken place against a backdrop of economic recession. Unemployment has continued to increase. This illustrates the pressing need to restore growth to the South African economy, so that all sides there may show their supporters that peaceful reform brings concrete benefits.

The Government are once more grateful to companies for their continued co-operation in providing reports, and urges them to maintain this performance and to comply fully with the code.