A group of black employees of the Polaroid Corporation petitioned the United Nations on Wednesday (February the 3rd) to support an international boycott of the products of the American corporation because of its business activities in South Africa.
GV INT. Committee in session
SV Member writing
MV Houser speaking
TRANSCRIPT: (SEQ. 3): HOUSER: "It is not the Polaroid experimental programme in itself that will do harm. It is good for people to get higher wages and some kind of education but not as a substitute for the rights of people to control their lives, and to have power to do this now, not in some unforseen future beyond an undefined change. But Polaroid's experiment must be seen for what it is - a paternalistic act of charity. The danger is that the Polaroid programme will be seen as a substitute for the programme supported by the United Nations, by the opposition African parties, by the people who are really struggling against apartheid. World opposition to apartheid is now so great that business corporations -- not just Polaroid, and not just the United States - are worried. The success of the campaign against the South African cricket tour in England last year, coupled with the pressure that corporations have felt at stockholders' meetings and the unfavourable publicity the companies have received, has created a feeling of nervous vulnerability. The Polaroid position offers the rationale business is looking for. Its protest against apartheid is only verbal. But it is a setback in the campaign to stop support for apartheid and must be challenged.
Initials GM/0047 SGM/0015
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A group of black employees of the Polaroid Corporation petitioned the United Nations on Wednesday (February the 3rd) to support an international boycott of the products of the American corporation because of its business activities in South Africa. Representatives of the group appeared before the UN committee on apartheid.
Last month Polaroid took full-page advertisements in major US newspapers to announce what was termed an experiment in South Africa by which it would continue to sell its products there but would press its local distributer to improve working conditions for non-white employees and would oblige business associates to train non-white workers for important jobs.
Another petitioner who appeared before the UN committee yesterday was Mr George M. Houser, executive director of the American Committee on Africa. He spoke of what he considered the dangers of the Polaroid programme in South Africa.