A coalition of labor unions has called on Americans to boycott products sold by the Shell Oil Co., a subsidiary of the Royal Dutch/ Shell Group, which has extensive oil, coal and chemical operations in South Africa.
The unions contend Royal Dutch/Shell, the world’s second largest multinational company in terms of sales, employs black slave labor in South Africa’s Rietspruit coal mine, of which it owns 50 percent with a South African firm. “We hope this boycott will encourage Shell to disinvest in South Africa as part of the broad effort to pressure the South African regime to help bring about an end to the apartheid system,” said Owen Bieber, president of the United Auto Workers and chairman of the AFL-CIO’s Ad Hoc Committee on South Africa. A spokesman for Shell Oil in Houston said the boycott is “unfortunate and misplaced” and that it will hurt American workers associated with Shell products. The unions say their boycott is aimed not at individual merchants who happen to sell Shell products, but only Shell products themselves. Union leaders are asking the public to cut up their Shell credit cards and not buy Shell goods.