Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has banned all holdings of shares in British security services company G4S because of the risk of human rights violations against its workforce in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Norway’s Council of Ethics, which monitors investments in the country’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), said there was an “unacceptable risk of the company contributing to systematic human rights violations”.
G4S, which is listed on the FTSE 250, provides security services in more than 90 countries, but the Council of Ethics focused on its “extensive use” of migrant workers from India, Pakistan and Nepal across the Middle East.
The wealth fund says many have their passports taken off them and are paid less than agreed. The workers also take out loans in order to pay fees to get their jobs with the company. They are then often unable to quit as a result of the debt.
In a statement published on Thurday, the council said its investigations showed “that workers have paid recruitment fees to work for the company, and that workers have taken out loans in their home country to be able to pay the fees. When the workers arrive in the Gulf, they must spend a significant part of their salary to pay off this debt, and therefore have little chance of leaving.
“Many also received far lower wages than agreed, and in the Emirates, the workers got their passport confiscated. The council’s investigations also revealed long working days, a lack of overtime payment and examples of harassment.”
G4S shares slid 2.5% to 203p. The company has been contacted for comment.
More details to follow soon…