LPF, it’s time to divest!

Unite CEC Branch pledges its support for the Time to Divest campaign and joins with it to demand that Lothian Pension Fund divest from companies profitting from mass killing and apartheid in Gaza.

The horrific siege on Gaza continues, with the death toll now over 27,000 with over half being children. As many of those calling for peace since October predicted, the crisis is causing further unrest in the region, with conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the UK and the US now at war with the Houthis in Yemen.

Those that watch on horrified may wonder what they can do—is there is anything that can be done to help with a conflict so far away? How are we connected?

Your money funds companies profitting from apartheid

To pay for your pension, the Lothian Pension Fund invests in various companies. Some of these companies—including the top investment—are involved in providing arms, weaponery and infrastructure that are used to murder Palestinians and perpetuated apartheid.

This is council-workers money.

Council workers are paid for by taxes—so it is tax payers money.

This money is funding corporations complicit in apartheid.

Boycott, divestment and sanctions—commonly abbreviated to BDS—campaigns work. They helped towards ending apartheid in South Africa. As the old saying goes ‘money talks’. We are now saying that our members’ money should not be used to arm those carrying out genocidal attacks.

Corporations complicit in genocide

Lockheed Martin is the biggest investment of the LPF (£96m as of January 2024). It is the world’s largest defense company and has a partnership with the Israeli Defence Forces, as their favoured provider for weaponery, as well as a provider of aircrafts, equipment and military infrastructure.

Siemens AG provides IT and communications infrastructure used by the IDF and within the occupied territories, including for the IT system for prisons in which thousands of Palestinians are unfairly imprisoned without trial or charge under the system of ‘administrative detention’.

Caterpillar provides bulldozers that are being used to clear the rubble of flattened Palestian homes. LPF has £17.6m worth of shares in Caterpillar.

Albemarle (£1.5m) is a US-based chemicals manufacturer. It supplies materials involved in the manufacture of white phosphorous for use by the IDF. White phosphorous burns at 800 celsius. It has been dropped on Gaza, causing extreme, often life-long, injury to its victims.

LPF also invests in Amazon and Alphabet—Google’s parent company—which are involved in the controversial Project Nimbus.

Can the LPF divest from certain corporations?

Yes, it did so in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine—however it still invests in companies profitting from Russian-government owned energy projects. LPF divested from Israeli bank Banko Hapoalim in 2021.

The pension fund may hide behind ‘fiduciary duty’—the obligation to make fruitful investments for its investors—you. However, the LPF could find equally fruitful investments that did not involve mass murder. As we have seen before, it can divest when it chooses to do so.

The LPF also uses the argument that by investing in companies it has more power to have its voice heard when it comes to those companies’ practices, as it will shareholder votes. Given the stature of these companies, this argument does not hold, and scrutiny behind closed doors is nothing compared the ability to make a public decision to divest.

What can I do?

Follow Time to Divest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and get involved in its work. Campaigners attend the regular demonstrations and would be keen to hear from council workers.

The Pensions Committee can influence the investments.

Contact the councillors on the committee to let them know you don’t want your pension used to fund companies complicit in apartheid:

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