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Page 2 - Hugh Wheelan: Unions are stepping up the naming and shaming of fund managers on workers’ rights

include a lack of responsible contractor or procurement policies, or poor oversight on issues like modern slavery. Anyone who doesn’t believe such labour issues can become financially material need look no further than this year’s succession of airline employee/management bust ups at the likes of Ryanair and British Airways, which knocked share prices. Smart investors, notably hedge funds, were paying attention and tuning into unions at the heart of these negotiations. It’s not all investor knocking at CWC. The group is keen to push examples of good practice in the market. IFM, the Australian, pension fund-owned infrastructure manager, told the conference it has a memorandum of understanding with ITUC on labour rights and related due diligence on deals. It aims to build confidence in the investments it makes around climate, fair pricing, tax, diversity and social licence and sees itself as a trusted partner of unions rather than an adversary.

Some union trustees are putting workers’ rights clearly into the money equation via their hiring of fund managers. Mike Musuraca, Consultant to the North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) said its affiliated pension funds “put the ’S’ front at the forefront of investment consultant and manager selection.” That makes sense.
As it enters its twenties, CWC should have a clear and loud policy dictum that its affiliated trustees will seek to veto the hire of any fund manager that does not clearly support simple principles at investee companies such as freedom of association for employees, some kind of direction on working hours, and collective bargaining on wages. Many do, but not all. These are staples of the Principles of the International Labour Organisation signed by 187 countries.They should underpin the responsible investment policies of trades-union linked pension funds allied to CWC.

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