Michelin Plant in India: OECD National Contact Point judges complaint admissible in France.
CCFD-Terre Solidaire, SHERPA, the CGT (trade union), the Tamil Nadu Land Rights Federation (TNLRF) and the Thervoy Villagers Association are pleased to have had their referral to the OECD National Contact Point (NCP) in France, concerning the establishment of a Michelin Plant in Tamil Nadu, India, announced admissible today. These five organisations had submitted the case to the NCP last July, with the belief that Michelin had violated several OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
“The complaint has been judged admissible, whilst Michelin is still refusing to give information on the conflict with the local populations who are victims of the establishment of itsPlant”, declares Bernard Pinaud, Executive Director of CCFD-Terre Solidaire. The establishment of the Michelin tyre manufacturing facility has contributed to the destruction of 450 hectares of forest and to the monopolisation of water resources, depriving the people living nearby of their main means of subsistence. “Michelin’s silence seems to us to be incompatible with the policy of a company that seeks to be socially responsible. Michelin’s most recent announcement regarding this controversy – in which the enterprise minimised the scale of the local protest – goes back to February 2012”, he adds.
This behaviour brings up questions about the very concept of responsibility, which many companies sum up as philanthropic work. For William Bourdon, President of SHERPA: “The true responsibility of a company is now measured according to the prevention of risks related to its activity. We hope that the NCP takes note of the violations of the guidelines, that he recommends that a serious and independent impact assessment study be carried out and that he thus makes sure that work is suspended until the legal proceedings engaged locally are completed”.
Legal proceedings in India have in fact been started up parallel to the complaint in France. They especially concern the state of Tamil Nadu, which seems to have granted this concession to the French company without fully respecting the legal obligations. “We are going to appeal to the Madras Court, because the state has refused to apply the court decision handed down three years ago, which provided for compensating the people who suffered from the destruction of their forest, their main means of subsistence”, states Nicholas Chinnappan, coordinator of the TNLRF, a partner organisation of CCFD-Terre Solidaire.
The lawyers of the affected villages have also decided to turn to the Indian Supreme Court, citing the irregularities that mark the entire industrial park project with regards to Indian law.
“We are going to continue mobilising using the peaceful means we have adopted”, asserts Mahesh, an inhabitant of Thervoy, who has been fighting since 2007 against the creation of the industrial park. “Today, we are no longer all alone. The other villages have realised the impacts of the site on their everyday life, and our mobilisation has been taken up in France, the country of Michelin”.
In this climate of tension, Michelin management is carrying out its project without concern about these court actions and other appeals. “Despite the strong mobilisation by the local inhabitants, Michelin is continuing its ‘fait accompli’ policy”, states Paul Fourier, member of the executive confederal commission of the CGT. “The enterprise is preparing to produce its first tyre in a few weeks. Such behaviour is inacceptable for us”.
The five plaintiffs, as well as the company, will be questioned in Paris this coming November by the NCP.
Contacts in charge of the case:
CCFD-Terre Solidaire: Antonio Manganella – 06 21 65 78 99, firstname.lastname@example.org
SHERPA: Marie Caroline Caillet – 07 50 60 27 35, email@example.com
CGT: Pierre Coutaz – 06 12 80 09 80, firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information:
– Press kit distributed when the complaint was submitted: http://ccfd-terresolidaire.org/e_upload/pdf/dpmichelininde.pdf
– French NCP website: www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/3623_le-point-de-contact-national-pcn
– OECD Watch website: www.oecdwatch.org
 Referral of a complaint to the OECD National Contact Point (known as “PCN”), an official extrajudicial organization existing in each of the 34 OECD countries, in charge of making sure that multinational enterprises respect the guidelines of the international organization