TORONTO, July 18, 2013 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes the decision by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) to divest its entire holdings in Excellon Resources Inc.
"Investors have obligations to shareholders to invest responsibly and avoid links to human rights violations, and this is especially the case with CPPIB which oversees the retirement funds for all Canadians," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director. The USW has criticized the CPPIB in the past for its poor policy on socially responsible investment.
The CPPIB held nearly three million shares in the Toronto-based mining company at the end of the 2012 fiscal year. The CPPIB is the most recent large shareholder to divest of Excellon Resources shares. Matrix Asset Management divested in 2012 and Dimensional Fund Advisors divested earlier this year.
Excellon is embroiled in a long-running and occasionally violent dispute with workers and landowners in Mexico, where the company has been the subject of human rights and labour rights violation allegations. In 2011, the company refused to participate in a dispute resolution process established by the Canadian government`s Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor for the Extractive Sector.
Last year, Excellon was named in a complaint under the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises filed by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), the USW, Los Mineros, communal landowners and Mining Watch Canada. The Mexican government rejected the complaint after it conducted a flawed and much-criticized investigation. Subsequently, community and worker representatives from La Platosa were invited to speak at the OECD Annual Meeting of National Contact Points in June.
Excellon continues to refuse to engage in good faith dialogue with Los Mineros, the only democratic union acting on behalf of Excellon's workers, and communal landowners at its La Platosa, Mexico mine site. In February of this year, CLC Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff travelled to Mexico to meet with community members and Los Mineros officials. This was part of a fact-finding mission by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD and included a meeting at the Canadian embassy in Mexico City.
The USW filed a complaint last week with the federal information commissioner on the failure of the Harper government to respond to requests for information under the federal Access to Information Act. The USW is exploring the relationship between the Canadian government and Excellon. In August 2012, Excellon hired lobblyist Will Stewart of Ensight Canada to seek government support for Excellon operations in Mexico. Stewart is a former chief of staff for John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Excellon share prices remain depressed despite efforts to boost prices through insider purchases, share buybacks, reports on potential new ore finds and a controversial reverse stock split. Trading of Excellon shares on the Torontostock exchange has sunk to an all-time low.