International Day of Action Against Caterpillar

IssueMay 2005
News by Jess Orlik


On 13 April, activists all over the world held demonstrations to oppose the sale of bulldozers to Israel by the US multinational Caterpillar.

Caterpillar equipment sold to the Israeli army destroys Palestinian homes, schools and agricultural land in the occupied territories. It has also been employed in the construction of the separation wall, which has been declared illegal by the International Court of Justice.

Mainstream criticism

The day of action was called to coincide with Caterpillar's annual shareholder meeting in Chicago. Thanks to pressure from the UN, Amnesty International, the International Solidarity Movement, and activists worldwide, the meeting was dominated by the controversial question of whether sales of equipment to the Israeli military violated Caterpillar's “good global citizen” code of conduct.

The resolution won a 3% vote and was backed by investors with shares thought to be worth over $600 million. The fact that mainstream investors have criticised Caterpillar's conduct signals a major victory for campaigners hoping to end the company's involvement in the occupation and destruction of Palestinian land.

Stop selling Caterpillar

In 2003 a Caterpillar bulldozer killed Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist, as she protested against house demolitions in the occupied territories.

On 13 April her mother Cindy Corrie demonstrated on Oxford Street in London along with activists and groups such as War on Want, International Solidarity Movement and others. Cindy delivered a simple message to department store John Lewis, “Stop selling Caterpillar products until Caterpillar stops selling bulldozers to Israel.” With products such as the Caterpillar boot, the company's main market is civilian, making it vulnerable to public pressure.

War on Want campaigns officer Nick Dearden said “Caterpillar's chief executive is fully aware of the uses his bulldozers are put to, yet he still claims that his company is `doing well by doing good around the world', We think that Britain's consumers have a right to know about the real Caterpillar, and believe they'd prefer their boots without blood on them.”

With pressure from consumers and international organisations, change is possible.