Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 340 - 359)



  340. Can I bring you on to the subject of female condoms in the workplace. We saw in Carletonville the work that you were doing, amongst others, with prostitutes. Are female condoms generally available for either commercial sex workers or, indeed, for partners of your workforce or your workforce if they are female?
  (Ms Crisp) Generally speaking no, not in our operations. Primarily this is because if you look at the mines, for example, the number of female employees is very small compared to the number of males. In the projects that we have been involved in which are community based, like the Carletonville project, like the Mpumalanga project— I do not know if you had an opportunity to see what was happening in Mpumalanga but the one project that we started there with one of our coal mines was taken up by the Department of Health and there are now 26 similar projects throughout the Province. They are using female condoms to a very great extent for the women in the community. We are not making them available in the workplace because there is not the demand for them because there are not the women there but we are certainly supporting their use with these community based projects.


  341. In Carletonville the sex workers there told us that they did ask for female condoms but were not given them, is that right?
  (Ms Crisp) I cannot comment on that. That is certainly not something I have heard about. I would have to check that with the director of the project.

  342. If it is effective that is obviously a useful source of prevention.
  (Ms Crisp) Absolutely.
  (Dr Brink) If they were not available that would be a huge deficiency which needs correction. The previous question talked about the vulnerability of women and women's rights. Certainly the new Government in South Africa has put women's rights very, very high on the agenda and I think that is a huge contribution to dealing with this epidemic. The most vulnerable age group is girls between the age of 15 and 20 and that really is where we have to focus a huge amount of effort to try to help that.

  343. Yes.
  (Ms Junghae) Over the years we have been providing free condoms using non-governmental organisations and people who distribute them locally in most of the operations. We put the condoms in the ladies' rooms and in the gentlemen's rooms and we find the condoms usually are the male condoms but they disappear most. The rate at which we have to get more supplies for the women is higher than for the men. Even in the use of the male condoms we find that our women are more aware and they are the ones who are taking them for their families, for their daughters, for their children, for their spouses. In Botswana, for example, where we were doing the Champion training over the last month, the women Champions were telling us that they take these condoms and put them in their briefcases for their men because they know that there is a risk of bringing the infection back home. Most of the countries—Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe—have come back to us after the Champion training and they are telling us that this was the first time some of them were hearing about female condoms. Demand is very high and they are asking us whether we can get sources to get the condoms distributed.

Mr Robathan

  344. We have already heard what MTV does in its business spreading the message about HIV and AIDS, do you know if other companies and yourselves are involved in preventive work with the customers or even with suppliers?
  (Mr Wheeler) Shall I comment from the Bank's perspective? Our overall education programme is relatively all encompassing. I will go through each of the different stakeholders, if you like, in terms of the business community we work with. We initially thought we should just go and talk to our staff but when we talked about that we found their families were very interested. We thought how could we access the community and the family. In certain instances family members will attend some workshops and communication sessions that we have on this. We have also developed media such that they can actually take home fliers, presentations, leaflets, brochures which talk about it and share it with the family. At the same time clearly there is a business opportunity to a certain extent in terms of your participation in the community if you are actually able to provide a benefit to that community. What we have done is taken the same information both to local business groups and customers voluntarily and if they want to have the same information they can duplicate it, take our name off and put their own name on, use it to communicate within their own workforce and so forth, we encourage that. At a political level similarly we go along and are happy to provide advice on what we have done. We hand over videos, some of it is quite sophisticated, CDs, discs, presentations. A number of companies like Anglo, ESCOM and so forth are doing a similar thing.
  (Ms Crisp) We have a very different customer base. We are selling metals on a metal exchange, we do not have customers.

  345. You have business suppliers and whatever.
  (Ms Crisp) Suppliers. Logistically it is very difficult. We do not have a programme to address HIV and AIDS with our suppliers simply because they are so numerous and generally we do not have contact with them. If you are at a mine in Carletonville you pick up the phone and phone the supplier in Johannesburg, a truck arrives and it drops off whatever it is and disappears again. It is an interesting point you raise but it is something we have not done and there are constraints.
  (Dr Brink) I think our effort there recently reinvigorated the Business Council on AIDS in South Africa. To the extent that becomes a source of information for all businesses, particularly small businesses, the message can get through there as to what people should be doing about this epidemic. Clem Sunter, who I think you all know of, is very much involved there. His most recent book with Alan Whiteside specifically tries to address these problems and show people what to do.
  (Ms Franklin) From MTV's point of view our customers are our audience which, as I have said, we do work with. Our suppliers are people like our cable operators who broadcast us. For example, we have made a half hour series of documentaries called Staying Alive. The first one we made is headed by George Michael. We have taken this programme looking at HIV and AIDS around the world for young people and we have actually made it rights free and we have made it available to our suppliers and any broadcaster around the world to air. We have issued this challenge on several occasions. We are trying to get our media peers involved who our customers, suppliers, at every opportunity that we can by giving away our material that we have made to broadcasters so that we can spread the message. Again, in advocacy terms we talk at associations like the International Live Music Conferences where we talk to music concert organisers to encourage them to put red ribbons on their artists or red ribbons in their programmes so that young people can pick them up and read them.

  346. Thank you. We have mentioned the inter-relationship with unions and worker representatives when you were testing the workers. In general, are trade unions and worker representatives involved in the formulation of HIV and AIDS policies in your businesses
  (Mr Wheeler) Yes.
  (Ms Crisp) Certainly in the mining industry as early as 1993 the Chamber of Mines of South Africa signed an agreement with all the unions on HIV and AIDS which was a standard non-discriminatory policy. What we have done over the years is we have made every effort to involve the unions in our peer education programmes so that we have shop stewards who are peer educators and we see them as key players in the whole process.

  347. And the shop stewards and union representatives are similarly committed to these policies, they take them very seriously? We have heard about denial.
  (Mr Wheeler) They tend to be the ones who will object. They are very vociferous if you tend to have a policy which is not transparent and non-discriminatory.

  348. If I can just quote briefly some evidence we have heard. "Senior figures in multi-national organisations often have little grasp of the risks and of the way the disease is transmitted. In extreme cases, this can lead to totally biased unrealistic views that can have major negative impacts on investment decisions." To what extent are senior management of companies, both in Africa and in international headquarters in the developed world, fully aware of the issues surrounding the matters of HIV and AIDS?
  (Ms Crisp) If I could start off. Part of our programme has been not just educating people about how they could be infected but also about how they could be affected. A major target group in that regard is our managers. We have had extensive workshops for managers.

  349. What about senior managers?
  (Ms Crisp) Absolutely, senior, executives. We have produced in the last three and a half years a monthly newsletter which goes out to everyone in all of our companies, chief executives down, which addresses various issues of the epidemic. We have organised workshops for them, we have done presentations for the executives of all the companies because for us it is critical that those managers understand what the issues are.

  350. I think what we are really trying to get to is the people making the decisions in the headquarters of companies, be they in London or in Johannesburg or wherever they might be.
  (Ms Franklin) I think from the multi-national companies based in London and New York it is very important to have the support of the senior management. One of the ways to do that is to actually take the senior management who may not really understand the epidemic and take them, like you have been, on field trips. Once they have the ability to see what is happening first hand they are much more inclined to support policies that you might want to put in place.

  351. Is that happening? Where is Standard Chartered based?
  (Mr Wheeler) It is headquartered in London.

  352. I thought it was. Who is the Chairman?
  (Mr Wheeler) Sir Patrick Gillam.

  353. Does he know about this?
  (Mr Wheeler) He does. He knows the Chairman of this Committee. I went to see Sir Patrick a couple of weeks ago after receiving the invitation because it is something that is close to his heart and the way it works in our organisation is if there is something that has a political dimension I go and see the Chairman and ask him "should we appear, should we participate, what is your view?" He first of all asked me who is the Chairman and after that I am here. We went through it. Yes, he is very aware. He knows I am here today and I will be seeing him next week and giving him an update. The Chief Executive, Rana Talwar is the nominated member on the Business Council on HIV and AIDS, one of approximately 15 companies that have recognised that there is something we can do together internationally in terms of influence. To be fair, yes, the most senior managers and directors are aware. Is there broad awareness across the organisation? Probably not. I would say it is probably better than in many organisations because we largely operate in emerging markets.

  354. It is nice to know the old boys network still lasts in New Labour's Britain.
  (Dr Brink) What we have in our company is an AIDS Policy and Strategy Committee that is drawn from the top management at the centre. That Committee, on an ongoing basis, looks at the evolution of the epidemic and how we are coping with it. That Committee requires of all managers out there to feed back. We give information to them, they have to feed back to us. Put very simply, the sorts of questions that could be asked are "How much HIV/AIDS have you got at your company? What will the impact of that be on your operations? What are you doing about it?" All managers are held accountable for that. That comes from the Chief Executive.

  355. Because of your presence in major markets and that of Standard Chartered I am very encouraged by what you say.
  (Ms Franklin) The Global Business Council's membership is made up of the CEOs specifically. We do require that on an annual basis the CEOs attend the meetings so that they do understand what is going on on a global basis.
  (Mr Cochrane) If I can just add, GBC has been very, very strong in making sure that the educational programmes, the outreach programmes, a whole host of programmes, are well in place in those companies. Part of its mission is to make sure that they can broadcast this to other companies and get them involved as well.

  356. Thank you. I have one last question. You mentioned migrant workers earlier and I think we have dealt with that but are there any other employment practices which can, in fact, contribute to the spread of HIV and AIDS that you have come across? If not, that is fine.
  (Mr Cochrane) No.

  357. We identified migrant workers. We will leave it there.
  (Mr Wheeler) Not within our organisation but regionally, of course, war is a very bad factor.

  358. I hope that is not an employment practice.
  (Mr Wheeler) That is what I am saying. If you are looking at migrant workers in terms of one area, I am sure you have picked up other things that do go on that have a major impact.

Mr Worthington

  359. Can I take that a little bit further. It seems to me that if you are wanting to resist the spread of the virus, the incidence, it is about creating stable communities, stable relationships. The practice of having migrant workers is just antagonistic to that, is it not? I know there are local cultural things but if we are serious about this surely that would be one effective way of reducing the incidence of HIV, diminishing the amount of migrant workers?
  (Dr Brink) I think that we must absolutely recognise that. In our policies we are deliberately doing everything we can to try to encourage and stabilise family units to the extent that where migrant workers used to be accommodated in hostels, now every employee has the opportunity of living out and living with family and receiving an allowance rather than saying "you must live in the hostel". A lot of steps have been put in place to counteract the negative influence of migrant workers. We fully recognise that we are not going to be able to get rid of them overnight for all the reasons that I explained earlier but we can certainly make progress. Again, if you see that overall in terms of the advancing HIV epidemic, I think the very fact of the employment opportunities we are offering in the workplace that people are exposed to, that in itself does, in fact, quite the opposite from exacerbating the epidemic, it is actually slowing the epidemic down. We would like to think that our employment contribution is, in fact, a big contributor to halting the progress of the epidemic.
  (Ms Crisp) I think that is particularly true if you bear in mind that from our point of view a lot of our migrant workers come from Lesotho and from Mozambique and it is the money that they earn in South Africa as migrant workers that maintains a certain stability within their communities back in those countries. Yes, it is a problem but there are also problems if we do away with it in its entirety. I would also like to pass on to you a comment that was made to me when we had a conference about five years ago that was organised by the World Bank for the mining groups in the SADAC countries. As always there was a lot of debate about migrant labour in the hostels in South Africa and the General Secretary of the Mineworkers' Union of Zambia was there and after a couple of hours of this discussion he suddenly said "Well, I am having difficulty understanding why everybody is talking about migrant labour. In Zambia we have a 25-30 per cent level of infection amongst our mineworkers and we have no migrant labour. Our workers have always lived with their families, they are not migrants, so I am not sure what all this discussion is about". I found that quite interesting at the time and I pass that on.

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