Tuesday, September 16, 2014

BP's All-Round Negligence Includes Treatment Of Retirees

 BP's code of conduct as it is outlined on the company website states,

 "We say what is true" and "We do what is right."

In early September US District Judge Carl Barbier found BP guilty of gross negligence, or "more reckless and extreme behavior" for their 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, which was the single largest marine oil spill in US history.
Barbier, who is based in New Orleans, wrote that the oil giant had taken measures to cut costs despite obvious safety risks, and mentioned that some of BP's decisions "evince an extreme deviation from the standard of care and a conscious disregard of known risks."

BP now faces a penalty of as much as $4,300 for each barrel of oil spilled, exposing the oil company to an additional $18 billion in fines. That is nearly quadruple the maximum civil fine had the finding been simple negligence.
Barbier's decision prompted the UK government to tell US Supreme Court judges that decisions to authorize payments to people who were not injured by the spill raises "grave international comity concerns by undermining confidence in the vigorous and fair resolution of disputes."

Given the number of UK citizens, government employees or otherwise, who have a massive financial stake in BP's financial well-being, the UK government's interest in the outcome of BP's US court case is obvious.
In a court brief dated September 4, the UK government said, "The lower courts' rulings have dramatically expanded" BP's "scope of liability far beyond anything that would seem to be appropriate under our shared common-law traditions or that anyone would reasonably expect."

Yet several long-term senior BP "SOHIO" employees who are incensed at what they believe is BP's attempt to short-change them on their pensions are enraged by the company's willingness to engage the UK government's assistance in avoiding fines in the United States, whilst ignoring the pleas of US-based senior employees for the company to honor their pension plans.
For more than half a year, at least 450 BP America employees have described BP as a company that is reneging on their pension plans by up to 75 percent, lying about it, and actively working against them in order not to pay them retirement benefits that were promised.

Russel Stauffer worked for BP in Houston for 32 years, but left in 2012 in "disgust."
"I quit the company as 'head of finance for the Gulf of Mexico,' I had a sweet job, but I could no longer stand the injustice and lies at work."
Fritz Guenther, a BP employee and United Steelworkers Union member working in Alaska, who has worked for BP for 35 years, said he and his colleagues are "currently fighting to get back the pension plans that BP promised us in writing in 1989."

But now the UK government's decision has him "severely pissed off."
"Where was the UK government in 1989 when BP stole, yes stole, over half of its American workers pensions," Guenther told Truthout. "Yeah, it's all well and good to screw your American workers but when the shoe is on the other foot the UK government feels the need to step in? Hey UK government, where were you when your beloved BP was putting the boots to its American workers?"

Guenther said he and his colleagues are "currently fighting back to get the pension plans that BP promised us in writing in 1989."
Guenther, Stauffer and other previous and current BP employees are frustrated because they all belonged to Standard Oil of Ohio (SOHIO), a company BP bought outright in 1987 and made the cornerstone of its new national operation, BP America. At the time, BP promised these new employees in writing that their pension plan would maintain equal value to the old plan, or would even increase in value.
According to Guenther and several other current and former long-standing BP employees, in 1989 BP converted its US-based workers to a "new and improved" retirement plan.
"But four years ago we realized that over half of our pensions were missing," Guenther said. "When we brought this to BP's attention they quit talking to their own long-term employees."

According to these BP employees to date over 450 BP America US employees have filed "code of conduct and ethics complaints" with the BP Ombudsman Judge Stan Sporkin.
Following a two year investigation, in which, according to the employees, BP repeatedly lied to the judge and even hired two of the ombudsman's investigators to stop the investigation, Sporkin concluded that what BP did to their pensions was, according to Guenther, "wrong on every level and BP 'needs to take bold action' to correct this for some of their longest serving, most loyal employees."

Regarding BP's consistent claims that the company has done everything possible to compensate those impacted by its disaster in the Gulf, coupled with the company enlisting the UK government to come to its aid regarding the recent court ruling against it, Guenther had strong words.
"I am so damn sick and tired of hearing about poor, poor BP everyone is after them," he said. "How about you guys in the media do a report on how BP stole its US workers' pensions and has continued to ignore them?"

Article by Dahr Jamail from here with more information from BP workers, both current and retired.

How easy these mega-corporations find it to set one section of workers against another while they, the company, wiggle and squirm their way around what affects them negatively. And, not surprisingly, one government can turn a blind eye to another's workers' grievances. This is capitalism. Only profits matter. The only way to overcome such inequity is to see the system for what it is from its roots to its branches and be prepared to work together across the world to overturn the system in its entirety.

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