A nationwide boycott of Shell Oil Co. came to Los Angeles Friday as representatives of more than 50 labor and civil rights groups urged the public to stop patronizing the company, which they claim supplies the repressive South African government with fuel and money.
As about 100 protesters paraded around the Shell station at Western Avenue and 3rd Street, West Coast coordinator Cary Schaye said that a successful boycott would send a message to the company’s parent firm that it should divest itself of the estimated $1.5 to $2 billion it has invested in South Africa’s apartheid system of government.
Activists claimed Friday that Shell USA’s parent company, Royal Dutch-Shell Group, is South Africa’s principal supplier of crude oil, maintains a half-interest in that country’s largest oil refinery and operates a number of coal-exporting mines that use “slave labor” to keep costs low, thereby competing unfairly with American-mined coal.
‘Hit Them in Pocketbook’
Boycott organizers are asking union members and the general public to send their cut-up Shell credit cards to local AFL-CIO offices, which will forward them to Shell.
“Pure rhetoric won’t get the job done, we’ve got to hit them in the pocketbook,” said William Robertson, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
Shell was targeted for the boycott after the National Union of Mineworkers, the largest of South Africa’s black unions, called on U.S. civil rights groups to aid in the fight against apartheid. The World Council of Churches, Free South Africa Movement, AFL-CIO, United Mine Workers, National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, National Organization for Women and many other groups have vowed to support the cause, Schaye said.